Aug 31, 2010 2:32 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5
Five more American troops were killed in action in Afghanistan on Tuesday, ending the month with a spike in bloodshed that has claimed the lives of 19 U.S. service members in only four days.
The U.S. death toll for August stood at 55 - three-quarters of them in the second half of the month as the Taliban fights back against U.S. pressure in southern and eastern strongholds. American losses accounted for more than 70 percent of the 76 fatalities suffered by the entire NATO-led force.
NATO said four of the Americans were killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan, while a fifth died in a gunfight with insurgents in the country's south. No other details were released.
Until the late month spike, it appeared that the death toll for August would be well below the back-to-back monthly records of 66 in July and 60 in June.
By the middle of August only 13 Americans had been killed - in part because of greater use of heavily armored vehicles and other defenses against roadside bombs, the Taliban weapon of choice.
The reason behind the sudden spike in deaths was unclear because few details about the casualties are released for security reasons.
Most of the U.S. deaths occurred in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, longtime Taliban strongholds that are the focus of the American-led operation against the insurgents.