Nine NATO Troops Dead in Copter Crash, Attacks

Richard Holbrooke, a special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, walks with Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills during Holbrooke’s visit to Marjah, Afghanistan, on Monday.

Associated Press

Richard Holbrooke, a special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, walks with Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills during Holbrooke’s visit to Marjah, Afghanistan, on Monday.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Nine NATO troops were killed Monday in a helicopter crash and a spate of attacks in southern and eastern Afghanistan, putting June on pace to become the deadliest month for the U.S.-led international force in the nearly nine-year war.

At least 62 NATO service members, including 41 Americans, have been killed this month in Afghanistan — an average of nearly three per day. Also on Monday, Afghan officials said a deputy district governor was slain in Wardak province, the latest blow for the U.S. effort to boost local governance in Taliban strongholds.

The surge in NATO casualties comes as the U.S. military is deploying an additional 30,000 troops to Taliban strongholds in an effort to secure them enough for the Afghan government to assume control.

"We're getting into places where we haven't been," Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in an interview. The Taliban is "going to continue to fight back for those areas so they don't lose their influence or the significant amount of drug money and resources," he added.

Monday's helicopter crash killed three Australian commandos and a U.S. service member before dawn in a rugged area of southern Afghanistan where fighting has raged for days.

Five other international service members, including four Americans, died in separate attacks in the east and south, officials said.

Also on Monday, the British government announced that 300 of its troops have been killed in Afghanistan, following the death Monday of a British marine injured Sunday in a roadside bombing in Helmand province.

In addition to stepping up attacks against NATO troops, the Taliban has in recent months assassinated several local government officials.

The deputy district governor in the Sayed Abad district of Wardak province was the latest victim. Afghan officials said the official, Atiqullah, 55, was slain over the weekend after having been kidnapped last week. His body was discovered near the village Sunday night. Some Afghan officials said he was beheaded, and others said his body was found riddled with bullets.

Fast facts

Payoffs alleged

The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country, congressional investigators said in a report Monday. Military officials said that they have begun several corruption investigations in Afghanistan and that a task force has been named.

Drug use rises

Use of opiates such as heroin and opium and other drugs has doubled to 3 percent of the Afghan population in the last five years, a U.N. report said Monday, as Afghans turn to drugs to escape the misery of poverty and war. It said almost 1 million Afghans — 8 percent of the 15 to 64 age group — are drug users.

Times wires

Nine NATO Troops Dead in Copter Crash, Attacks 06/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 12:51am]

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