2 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

** CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER'S NAME ** Afghan security men run following a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009. A suicide car bomb attack on a heavily guarded road between the German Embassy and a U.S. military base set the embassy on fire Saturday, killing an Afghan child and wounding 21 people, including five U.S. troops. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq) AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq

A suicide car bomb attack Saturday on a heavily guarded road between a U.S. military base and the German Embassy in the Afghan capital killed one U.S. service member and four Afghan civilians, officials said.

Separately, a U.S. service member died when militants fired at a CH-47 transport helicopter and it made a "hard landing" in eastern Kunar province, the U.S. military said. Military spokesman Col. Greg Julian said it wasn't immediately clear whether the incoming fire brought down the helicopter.

In a third attack today, a suicide bomber in a minivan charged a convoy of NATO troops and Afghan police in eastern Nangarhar province. Provincial police say the explosion killed one civilian and wounded three others as well as three police.

The attacks come at a time of increasing attention on Afghanistan as President-elect Barack Obama is set to take office. Obama has promised to increase America's focus on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan while decreasing troop levels in Iraq.

The U.S. has said it will send up to 30,000 new troops into Afghanistan in 2009, including some 3,000 forces in two provinces adjacent to Kabul, where militants now have free reign. The U.S. now has some 32,000 troops in Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bomb attack in Kabul and said German military personnel were the targets. A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin said "some personnel" were wounded in the blast, but he did not give numbers. He said they had no reports of deaths.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Jerry O'Hara said one U.S. service member died from wounds received in the 9:45 a.m. attack on a busy Kabul street. The blast also wounded six American troops and a U.S. civilian, he said.

"They detonated this explosive device right in a crowded area that was both used by civilians and military people," O'Hara said.

Four Afghan civilians died in the blast, and at least 19 wounded were being treated at two hospitals, the interior minister said. Two other wounded civilians were at other hospitals, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defense Ministry spokesman.

The German Embassy shares a small, two-lane road with Camp Eggers, a U.S. base that serves as the headquarters for soldiers who train Afghan police and army personnel. Dozens of armed Afghan security personnel guard the street, and blast walls of concrete and sand-filled mesh-wire boxes line the road.

"It did not breach the wall (of the base)," said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Kubik. "It was fairly close but I can't tell you if they were targeting us or not."

Windows inside the German compound shattered in the explosion, but the wall protecting the compound is still intact, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said. He refused to give his name for publication, citing government policy.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said a Taliban suicide bomber named Shumse Rehman carried out the attack in a Toyota Corolla. He said the bomber targeted two vehicles believed to be carrying German military officers.

"The Germans have forces in the north of Afghanistan and they are involved in the killing of innocent Afghans. The Taliban will target all those countries who have forces in Afghanistan," he said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned "this cowardly act of barbarity."

"Germany stands by its commitment in Afghanistan," Steinmeier said in a statement. "We will not let terror deter us from continuing our aid to the Afghan people."

Germany has 3,200 troops in Afghanistan, mainly in the country's north. That region is considerably more peaceful than the country's east or south, but German troops are still the target of occasional bomb attacks.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also condemned the attack and offered condolences to the victims' families.

"These kind of un-Islamic and inhumane acts will only increase people's hatred for the terrorists," Karzai said.

In a third attack Saturday, a suicide bomber in a minivan charged a convoy of NATO troops and Afghan police in eastern Nangarhar province. The explosion in the Chaparhar district killed one civilian and wounded three others, said Ghafor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial police chief. He said three police were also wounded.

Mujahid said the bombing was aimed at the foreign military forces in the convoy.

A spokesman for NATO forces, Sgt. Brian Jones, confirmed the bomb attack on the convoy. He said no NATO troops were killed or wounded.

By Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez; AP's Jason Straziuso, Heidi Vogt, Amir Shah, and Noor Khan contributed to this report
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