Dec 30, 2009 3:48 PM by Bea Karnes

8 American civilians killed in Afghanistan

All of the eight Americans killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan Wednesday were civilians, and no U.S. or NATO troops were injured in the blast, a U.S. defense official said.

The attack took place at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province, in eastern Afghanistan, said the official, who declined to be named. The New York Times was reporting that the bomber managed to elude security and reach the base's gym.

"We can confirm that there was an explosion in Khost province and eight Americans have been killed," a U.S. official said. He could not give any further details.

A senior U.S. official in Washington said the Americans were killed by an attacker wearing a suicide vest.

Another senior U.S. official in Washington said there were conflicting reports on the total number of casualties. Others were also wounded.

Wazir Pacha, a police spokesman in Khost province, said local people reported hearing a blast in the area.

Attacks in Afghanistan this year have spiralled to their highest levels since the Taliban were overthrown by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

Washington is sending 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to stem the mounting violence, with NATO allies also contributing thousands more.

Civilian and military casualty tolls have reached record levels this year, with suicide attackers even targeting United Nations employees at a guesthouse in the heart of Kabul.

Khost, on the Pakistani border, is one of the areas of Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, and most foreigners there are troops or working under military protection.

In late September a suicide bomber rammed a car into a military convoy of foreign forces there, killing one American.

The Chapman base was reportedly a former Soviet air base and named for Nathan Chapman, the first U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2002.




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