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U.S. Troop Killed in Afghan Blast

A homemade bomb killed a U.S. service member Monday in southern Afghanistan, NATO said.

The American death toll has been rising as fighting escalates with an influx of 37,000 additional U.S. and NATO forces being sent to Afghanistan as part of President Obama's war strategy.

At least 29 U.S. troops died in January, more than double the 14 deaths recorded in the same month last year. That made it the deadliest month since November, when 30 died.

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The statement announcing Monday's attack gave no further details, but fierce fighting has been taking place in the south, which is expected to be a major focus of the troop surge.

NATO and Afghan forces also killed seven militants in a gun battle Sunday in the south of the country, according to the Afghan army.

The troops were on patrol in Helmand province when they came under attack and returned fire, said Gen. Sher Mohammad Zazi, the army commander for southern Afghanistan. He said no government or international troops were wounded and that they recovered the bodies of seven militants after the battle. NATO forces did not immediately comment on the incident.

Meanwhile, two would-be suicide bombers targeted a police station Monday in southern Zabul province, but were driven back before they could set off their explosives.

Officers opened fire on the two attackers as they approached the police headquarters in Qalat city, fatally shooting one of them, said deputy provincial police chief Ghulam Jalanai Farahi. One officer was wounded in the firefight.

The second attacker escaped during the fighting and security forces were searching for him, Farahi said.

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