KABUL, Afghanistan – A roadside bomb tore through an American armored vehicle in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing a U.S. service member and an Afghan interpreter, the military said.
The vehicle was part of military resupply convoy in Uruzgan province, an area wracked by Taliban rebel violence, a military statement said.
The death brought to 205 the number of U.S. troops killed in and around Afghanistan since the hard-line Islamic regime was ousted in 2001.
It also comes amid an upsurge in rebel attacks and abductions this year that has left almost 1,500 people dead, mostly in southern and eastern regions.
A purported Taliban spokesman claimed that rebels had shot dead Tuesday an Indian truck driver kidnapped over the weekend in southwestern Nimroz province. Authorities have not confirmed the claim.
The spokesman, Qari Mohammed Yousaf, said Maniappan Raman Kutty was killed because the Indian state-owned company he worked for on a road project had not agreed to the kidnappers' demands to pull out of Afghanistan.
"This evening at 6 p.m., Taliban commanders decided to kill him and that is what has now been done," Yousaf said in a satellite phone call from an undisclosed location. "We still have the body and will dump it somewhere."
Yousaf often calls news organizations to claim responsibility for attacks, often with information that proves exaggerated or untrue. His exact ties to the Taliban leadership are unclear.
Kutty and three Afghans were kidnapped Saturday. Yousaf said one of the Afghans was released, but no decision had been made on the fates of the others.
Interior Ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanekzai confirmed that an Afghan had been released, but he could not confirm that the Indian was killed.
In August, a British engineer working on a road project and two Japanese tourists were kidnapped and killed in separate incidents in southern provinces.