KABUL, Afghanistan — Roadside bombs killed seven American troops on Monday, including five in a single blast in Kandahar, raising to more than a dozen the number who have died in the last three days.
The spike in deaths comes as President Hamid Karzai has publicly raised doubts about the U.S. strategy in the war, saying success cannot be achieved until more Afghans are in the front lines and insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan are shut down.
NATO gave no details of the Monday blasts except that they occurred in the south, the main theater of the conflict, and that five were killed in a single blast.
Witnesses said five Americans died when a bomb struck a Humvee on a main road on the outskirts of Kandahar, the focus of a military campaign to secure the city that the Taliban used as their headquarters during their years in power.
The U.S. death toll for August had been running well behind those of the previous two months that set monthly records — 60 in June and 66 in July. But 14 Americans have been killed in the past three days, raising the American toll for the month to 49, most of them in the south.
NATO commanders have warned that casualties will mount as coalition and Afghan forces enter areas that have been under longtime Taliban control. The NATO force swelled this month to more than 140,000 — including 120,000 Americans — with the arrival of the last of the reinforcements that President Barack Obama ordered to Afghanistan in a bid to turn the tide of the nearly 9-year war.
With death tolls rising, Karzai has become more outspoken in his criticism of the U.S.-led war effort, telling recent visitors that the American counterinsurgency strategy is flawed.
Last week, Karzai told a group of visiting U.S. congressmen that Obama's plan to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in July 2011 had given a morale boost to the Taliban and that the war could not be won until insurgent sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan are eliminated.