Three Czech soldiers killed as Afghan suicide attacks increase

Three Czech soldiers killed as Afghan suicide attacks increase

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U.S. soldiers and soldiers from the Czech Army conduct a patrol in eastern Afghanistan to meet with local nationals on July 25, 2018. (Photo: Staff Sgt. Lerone Simmons, U.S. Army)

WASHINGTON — Suicide bombers killed three Czech soldiers Sunday in Afghanistan, the latest deaths in a significant uptick in suicide attacks in the war-torn nation.

One U.S. soldier and two Afghan National Army soldiers also were injured in the blast, which took place in eastern Afghanistan — one of the most danger-fraught areas of the country.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred near Charakar, the provincial capital of the Parwan province.

“My thoughts and prayers, along with those of all of the 41 Resolute Support nations, are with the families and friends of our fallen and wounded service members, and our injured Afghan brothers and their families,” U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, Resolute Support and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan commander, said in a statement on Sunday.

“Their sacrifice on behalf of the Afghan people and our coalition will endure in both our hearts and history, and further strengthen our resolve,” he said.

The three deaths double the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan this year. Three U.S. soldiers have been killed since January 1.

“In my eyes they are the heroes who participated in the fight against terrorism across the Czech Republic, the whole country should be proud of them, sincere condolences to families, relatives and friends,” Czech Army Lt. Gen. Aleš Opata, Czech Armed Forces chief of general staff, said in a statement.

The Czech Republic, a NATO member, has deployed roughly 280 service members to the Afghan mission. The country has participated in the Resolute Support mission since its inception on January 1, 2015, and the three soldiers killed Sunday were the first Czech casualties since then.

However, the Czech Republic had sent forces to the International Security Assistance Force mission since 2002, and eight of its soldiers have been killed in action since then. The ISAF mission transitioned to the current Resolute Support mission on August 11, 2013. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces took the lead for security operations across the country by summer 2013, and ended December 31, 2014.

“The Czech Republic has and remains an incredibly valued and respected contributor to this mission and the now 41 nation strong coalition,” Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesperson for Resolute Support, told TMN in an email from Kabul.

He noted that the “International Security Assistance Force mission was one of the largest coalitions in history. At its height, the force was more than 130,000 strong, with troops from 51 NATO and partner nations.”

Suicide attacks have been in an upsurge since the spring, with Afghan civilians taking the most casualties. The attacks come despite a much-touted winter offensive the Pentagon maintained was deigned to blunt and diminish the capacity of the various enemies to strike.

Also on Sunday, more than 40 Afghan soldiers were reported killed when a Taliban strike routed them from their positions in southern Uruzgan province.

Additionally on Sunday, ISIS claimed it was responsible for a Friday suicide attack on a mosque in Gardez, south of Kabul. The attack killed at least 29 people and wounded another 81, according to reports.

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