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6 foreign troops killed in Afghanistan

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image A damaged vehicle is seen at the site of a blast in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, Sept 27, 2009. An explosion targeting Afghanistan's energy minister outside a girls school killed four civilians in the country's far west, police s

KABUL — The NATO-led force in Afghanistan says three of its troops — including two Americans — have died in insurgent attacks.

NATO says the two U.S. service members died on Saturday — one from a roadside bomb explosion and the other from an insurgent attack.

A third NATO service member died Sunday from a bomb explosion in southern Afghanistan. No other details were released.

Elsewhere, French officials say three soldiers died in a violent storm in northeastern Afghanistan late Saturday. One soldier was struck by lightning while two were swept away by a rain-swollen river.

This year has been the deadliest of the eight-year war for U.S. and NATO troops. The latest six deaths bring to 64 the number of NATO troops killed this month.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KABUL (AP) — An explosion targeting Afghanistan's energy minister outside a girls school killed four civilians in the country's far west, police said. A Taliban official claimed responsibility for the Sunday morning blast.

Taliban assassination attempts against Afghan officials have intensified this year, with more than 100 officials and pro-government tribal elders attacked — half of them fatally.

The convoy carrying Energy Minister Ismail Khan, a powerbroker in the western region of Herat, was headed to the airport when the bomb exploded outside the high school, said Raouf Ahmadi, a police spokesman. Ahmadi said four civilians died and 17 people were wounded, including four of Khan's bodyguards.

He said Khan escaped unharmed and arrived safely at the airport.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for what he said was a car bomb targeting Khan, who was once governor of Herat, a western province bordering Iran. He said Khan was among the dead, though Mujahid's claims often turn out to be false.

The Taliban assassination campaign is a strong sign of deteriorating security in the country, where a record number of U.S. and NATO troops have also died this year. The Obama administration is now debating whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan as its government faces allegations of widespread fraud from the disputed Aug. 20 presidential election.

Elsewhere in western Afghanistan, three Afghan civilians died when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Farah province. Gen. Mohammad Faqir Askir, Farah's police chief, said the vehicle had just turned off the main highway toward a village when the bomb exploded.

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said seven Taliban militants were killed in a gunbattle Saturday with police in Kunduz province, once a relatively peaceful region in the north of the country that has recently seen more violence as militants try to expand control. Also, an Afghan soldier was killed by Taliban militants on his way to his base in Zabul province in the southeast of the country, the Defense Ministry said

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