5 U.S. Troops Killed in Southern Afghan Attacks

Five American troops were killed in attacks in southern Afghanistan, where the U.S. and NATO have ramped up operations against the Taliban and seen casualties rise quickly in what has been the deadliest year of the war for international forces.

Four soldiers died Thursday in the same small district of Zabul province, including three killed when their Stryker vehicle struck a bomb, said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Robert Carr. The fourth was shot to death in an insurgent attack, Carr said. The Stryker brigade in Zabul is part of the influx of U.S. troops sent by President Barack Obama over the summer to try to reverse Taliban gains.

A U.S. Marine was fatally shot Thursday while on foot patrol in Nimroz province, said Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a military spokeswoman.

The deaths come as the Obama administration debates whether to send still more forces to Afghanistan.

The Pentagon said the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, would ask this week for additional American forces — a number that officials said could reach as high as 40,000 troops. But some question the wisdom of sending more troops to support a government facing hundreds of fraud allegations from the disputed Aug. 20 presidential election.

Roadside bombs now account for the majority of U.S. and NATO casualties and have proven especially dangerous in the south, which is largely controlled by the Taliban.