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Roadside bomb kills 4 U.S. troops in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A roadside bomb killed four American troops in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Friday, as a panel backed by the United Nations finished most of its investigation into whether the level of fraud in the August presidential election would force a runoff.

Two of the U.S. service members were killed instantly in a blast Thursday, and two others died of the wounds they had sustained, the military said in a statement. No further details were released.

The deaths bring to 25 the number of American service members killed in Afghanistan this month, according to an Associated Press count.

"Unfortunately, Afghanistan remains a dangerous place. We do try to take all the precautions that we can, and we are regularly readjusting our forces to better protect the civilian population here, and unfortunately, that places our forces at risk," U.S. military spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks said.

Elsewhere, four Afghans, including at least two civilians, died in a firefight Friday between militants and a joint U.S.-Afghan force in Ghazni province.

Rising U.S. casualties and the political crisis triggered by a fraud-marred election have prompted the Obama administration to review its entire Afghanistan war strategy, including proposals to send thousands more troops here or shift the focus to missile strikes and special operations raids against al-Qaida figures in Pakistan.

Obama is not expected to decide on a new strategy until the Afghans determine whether they must hold a runoff election between President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger, Abdullah Adbullah.

Preliminary results from the Aug. 20 poll had put Karzai in the lead with 54.6 percent of the vote, compared with about 28 percent for Abdullah. The fraud rulings could eliminate enough Karzai votes to push him below the 50 percent threshold, forcing a second round.

A spokeswoman for the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission said the panel has completed the bulk of its investigation but that commissioners are still analyzing complaints and calculating figures before making a decision about a runoff.

The country's Independent Election Commission will announce final results and say whether a runoff is needed. Any runoff is supposed to be held within two weeks, but many fear winter snows and insecurity could make voting hard or impossible.

Roadside bomb kills 4 U.S. troops in Afghanistan 10/16/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 17, 2009 12:07am]

    

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