Troop Casualties In Afghanistan Reach New Monthly High

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A firefight this month in Afghanistan. David Gilkey/NPR hide caption

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UPDATED: With the killing of a Canadian soldier in southwest of Kandahar this morning, the toll for the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan in July has made for the deadliest month since the conflict began nearly eight years ago. The coalition has lost 46 troops, including 24 Americans, with half the month remaining.

Casualties began climbing after President Obama assigned another 21,000 troops to the war this year to counter the resurgent Taliban. This week in Nimroz, three police officers were killed by a suicide car bomber, and two Afghan soldiers died in attacks in the south. An attack on an international military convoy led to a battle that killed at least eight insurgents, two police officers and a private security guard.

The civilian death toll is also rising. The governor of Kandahar said today that six people had been killed in a coalition air strike Wednesday night. U.S. military spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said she didn't have details because the fighting was ongoing.

Taliban commanders have also threatened to kill a captured American soldier unless the U.S. military stops operations in two southeastern provinces. Commander Abdullah Jalali told the AP the unnamed soldier is good health.

Mathias declined to comment on the demands. The military says the soldier wandered off his base for unknown reasons and was captured last month.

In other news from the region, gunmen in the Peshawar region of Pakistan, a Taliban stronghold, killed a UN official and a security guard during a failed kidnapping attempt at a refugee camp. NPR's Julie McCarty reports that the UN official, Zill-e-Usman, 59, had four children and was on the edge or retiring.

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