KABUL, Afghanistan — Twin attacks on Afghan intelligence officials took place on what also proved to be a deadly day for Western troops in Afghanistan.
Six members of the NATO force were killed, five of them by improvised explosive devices — four in the country's east and one in the south. Their nationalities were not disclosed by the Western military, but Americans make up the bulk of troops in both those regions. Another service member died from a "non-battle related injury," NATO said.
The deaths brought the number of international forces to have died so far this year in Afghanistan to 17, including at least eight Americans.
The first attack on members of Afghanistan's main intelligence service came when a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up Wednesday next to a minibus transporting the agents in Kabul, killing at least two other people and injuring more than 30 others. At almost the same time, a remote-controlled bomb killed the deputy intelligence chief and his driver in the eastern province of Kunar.
The attacks came on the same day the U.S. military's top officer declared in an unusually upbeat assessment on the war that the enemy in Afghanistan is losing.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news conference in Washington that Afghan towns are beginning to reject Taliban fighters and that surprising progress is being seen in tough areas like southern Kandahar province.
At the same time, Mullen added, "I do not want to understate in any way, shape or form the difficulty of the task. It clearly continues to be severe."
The Kabul explosion, which took place on a crowded road in the western part of the city during morning rush hour, came as Vice President Joe Biden was concluding a visit to Afghanistan.
The vice president, who departed about 90 minutes after the blast, had traveled to an air base north of Kabul after meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the capital on Tuesday.
The Taliban took responsibility for both bombings, and boasted that the one in Kabul had killed 14 people. It is not unusual for the movement to make exaggerated claims about an attack's effectiveness.
Karzai condemned the bombing, as did the U.S. Embassy and NATO's International Security Assistance Force. All decried the loss of civilian life.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.