July is Deadliest Month for U.S. in Afghanistan

In this July 22, 2010 file photo, U.S. Army troops from the 1st Battalion 320th Alpha Battery, 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, duck as an Afghan soldier fires a rocket propelled grenade towards insurgent positions at Combat Outpost Nolen, in the volatile Arghandab Valley, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
AP Photo
Last updated 11:45 a.m. Eastern

NATO announced Friday that six more U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll for July to at least 66 and surpassing the previous month's record as the deadliest for American forces in the nearly 9-year-old war.

In Kabul, police fired weapons into the air Friday to disperse a crowd of angry Afghans who shouted "death to America," hurled stones and set fire to two vehicles after an SUV, driven by U.S. contract employees, was involved in a traffic accident that killed four Afghans on the main airport road, according to the capital's criminal investigations chief, Abdul Ghaafar Sayedzada.

A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said a vehicle carrying four U.S. contract workers was involved in a two-car accident near the airport.

"Our sympathies go out to the families of those Afghans injured or killed in this tragic accident," the embassy said.

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Witnesses said foreigners fled the scene, but the embassy said the contractors were cooperating with local Afghan security forces.

Afghan police, some carrying riot shields, converged on the area, firing warning shots into the air to disperse the protesters. Sayedzada said the crowd burned two foreigners' vehicles, causing heavy black smoke to rise from the scene.

"It is our right to raise up our voice and protest when innocent Afghans are harmed," said Azizullah, a 25-year-old student, who like many Afghans uses one name.

Ahmad Jawid, who also was at the scene, asked: "Are we not Muslims? Are we not from Afghanistan? Infidels are here and they are ruling us. Why?"

A fatal traffic accident caused by a U.S. military convoy in 2006 triggered an anti-American riot in Kabul that left at least 14 people dead and dozens injured.

A NATO statement Friday said one service member died following an insurgent attack and two others were killed in a roadside bombing the same day in southern Afghanistan. A U.S military official confirmed all three were American troops.

Earlier in the day, a U.S. military official confirmed three other American service members died in two separate blasts in southern Afghanistan on Thursday.

The six deaths raised the U.S. death toll for the month to at least 66, according to an Associated Press count. June had been the deadliest month for the U.S. with 60 deaths.

July's grim milestone was reached as U.S. military leaders issued angry warnings to the WikiLeaks website, saying the site's publication of more than 90,000 classified military documents put American and Afghan lives at risk.

U.S. and NATO commanders had warned casualties would rise as the international military force ramps up the war against the Taliban, especially in their southern strongholds in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan last December in a bid to turn back a resurgent Taliban.

British and Afghan troops launched a new offensive Friday in the Sayedebad area of Helmand to try to deny insurgents a base from which to launch attacks in Nad Ali and Marjah, the British military announced. Coalition and Afghan troops have sought to solidify control of Marjah after overrunning the poppy-farming community five months ago.

The American deaths this month include Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley from Kingman, Arizona, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, from the Seattle area. They went missing last Friday in Logar province south of Kabul, and the Taliban announced they were holding one of the sailors.

McNeley's body was recovered there Sunday and Newlove's body was pulled from a river Wednesday evening, Afghan officials said. The Taliban offered no explanation for Newlove's death, but Afghan officials speculated he died of wounds suffered when the two were ambushed by the Taliban.

Senior military officials in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the sailors were never assigned anywhere near where their bodies were found.

Newlove's father, Joseph Newlove, told KOMO-TV in Seattle he was baffled why his son had left the relative safety of Kabul. "He's never been out of that town. So why would he go out of that town? He wouldn't have," he said.

New York Times reporter David Rohde was kidnapped in Logar in 2008 while trying to make contact with a Taliban commander. Rohde and an Afghan colleague escaped in June 2009 after seven months in captivity, most spent in Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Elsewhere, violence continued Friday.

Four Afghan civilians were killed and three were injured when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Zabul province of southern Afghanistan, provincial spokesman Mohammed Jan Rasoolyar said. When police arrived at the scene, Taliban fighters opened fire. One insurgent was killed, the spokesman said.

In Kandahar, a candidate in September's parliamentary election escaped assassination Friday when a bomb planted on a motorcycle exploded, city security chief Fazil Ahmad Sherzad said. The Interior Ministry said a woman and a child were killed and another child was wounded.

In another sign that the Afghan war's end is nowhere in sight, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations told CBS News on Thursday that President Obama's strategy in the neighboring country was doomed to failure.

"In my personal opinion, the way the war is being fought, it doesn't seem winnable," Abdullah Hussain Haroon told CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk.

Haroon said he believed insurgent attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan would decrease when U.S. and other Western troops pulled out of the Asian nations.

Those attacks, and "improvised explosive device" (IED) bomb strikes in particular, have increased dramatically in recent years. CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports that IEDs now account for about two thirds of U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan.

The trend is made startlingly apparent by a video posted on YouTube by an antiwar group. The video shows a map of Afghanistan and marks the location of IED strikes in a time-lapse from January 2004 to December 2009. The data used to produce the video was apparently taken from the WikiLeaks documents, which are mostly low-level intelligence field reports filed by U.S. service members.