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3 Americans, 25 others killed in Afghan explosions

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two explosions in eastern Afghanistan, one targeting an American convoy, killed three U.S. troops, an Afghan interpreter and at least 24 other Afghans on Wednesday, defying what the military had described as a trend of diminishing violence this year.

Western officials had been citing decreased civilian casualties in the first four months of the year as a sign that the insurgency is waning, and Afghan forces are increasingly showing the ability to safeguard the country. But deaths have been spiking in recent weeks.

Both blasts — one in the city of Khowst, the other in a rural district of Lowgar province — occurred during the lunch hour, a time when many people are on the streets.

The Khowst explosion, aimed at a convoy carrying coalition troops, was triggered by a suicide bomber on a motorbike, the Interior Ministry said. The ministry put the Afghan death toll at 16, including two police officers, and the injury count at 37, including two women.

Western military officials said three Americans and a translator died in the explosion, and the U.S. Embassy condemned what it called a "murderous campaign against all" by the Taliban and other insurgents.

Khowst, the capital of the province of the same name, lies just across the border from Pakistan's tribal areas, where the Haqqani network, a virulent Taliban offshoot, is based. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

About the same time, a civilian vehicle in the Baraki Barak district of Lowgar province hit a roadside bomb, killing eight civilians, half of them children, the Interior Ministry said. It blamed "terrorist Taliban" for planting the device.