KABUL, Afghanistan — Four U.S. Marines were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy in western Afghanistan on Thursday. Another Marine was killed in a roadside bombing Wednesday, the U.S. military said.
The deaths bring to 11 the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan in August, on the heels of what was the worst month for Western and U.S. troop fatalities since the conflict began in 2001. Forty-three American service members died in July.
Violence has been surging in advance of Afghanistan's presidential and provincial assembly elections, which are two weeks away. In addition to the troop fatalities, 26 Afghans, most of them members of a wedding party, were reported killed in roadside bombings Thursday.
Some American field commanders have said more insurgents may be moving into Farah in response to a major U.S. offensive in Helmand province, just to the south, which began in early July. But insurgents had been tightening their grip on Farah even before the Helmand offensive, dubbed Operation Khanjar, or Strike of the Sword.
Meanwhile, controversy erupted over allegations that a Western airstrike late Wednesday resulted in civilian deaths in Kandahar province.
Police in Zhari district said five farmers were killed as they loaded produce into a truck. The U.S. military, however, said it was believed that the five were loading the truck with munitions.
Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, a U.S. spokeswoman, said the incident would be investigated, including a review of cockpit video from the Apache attack helicopter that carried out the strike.