Just weeks after the United States suffered its 100th death in Operation Enduring Freedom, an explosion at a weapons cache killed seven U.S. soldiers, wounded three and left one missing Thursday.
An Afghan interpreter also was wounded by the 3 p.m. explosion near the city of Ghazni, 60 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul. The soldiers were working around a weapons cache when the blast happened.
Capt. Bruce Frame said it's not known what caused the blast, among the most damaging blows to American troops since they deployed in Afghanistan more than two years ago.
The United States provides 9,000 of the 11,000-member coalition troops stationed in Afghanistan.
The Taliban were driven from power but sporadic fighting has continued. Sixteen of the more than 100 U.S. deaths have occurred in combat _ including seven when two helicopters took enemy fire in March 2002.
The toll includes deaths in other areas of Operation Enduring Freedom, such as a helicopter crash in the Philippines nearly two years ago that killed 10 American soldiers _ the deadliest in the operation. Seven soldiers were killed on Jan. 9, 2002, when their tanker plane slammed into a mountain in Pakistan.