KABUL, Afghanistan - Seven U.S. soldiers and a member of the NATO-led coalition were killed on Saturday in one of the deadliest days for Americans and other foreign troops in Afghanistan in recent months, as the Taliban continued attacks as part of their spring offensive.
The renewed violence came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged at a news conference that regular payments his government has received from the CIA for more than a decade would continue. Karzai also said that talks on a U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement to govern future American military presence in the country had been delayed because of conditions the Afghans were placing on the deal.
The U.S.-led coalition reported that five international troops were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, and coalition spokesman Capt. Luca Carniel confirmed that all five were American.
The coalition did not disclose the location of the roadside bombing. However, Javeed Faisal, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province, said the coalition patrol hit the bomb in the Maiwand district of the province, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban.
Later, the coalition reported that a soldier with the Afghan National Army turned his weapon on coalition troops in the west, killing two in the most recent insider attack. Such attacks by members of the Afghan security forces against their fellow colleagues or international troops have eroded confidence in the Afghan forces as they work to take over from foreign forces.
Both killed were American.
Another coalition service member was killed in an insurgent attack in northern Afghanistan, the NATO-led force said. It did not provide any further details of the incident.
It was the fourth time since last summer that seven Americans have been killed on a single day in the war.
At the news conference, Karzai said he had met earlier in the day with the Kabul station chief of the CIA and was reassured that the agency's payments to the Afghan government would continue.
The New York Times had reported that for more than a decade, the CIA had given the Afghan National Security Council tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments delivered in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags.
Karzai said he told the station chief: "'Because of all these rumors in the media, please do not cut all this money because we really need it. We want to continue this sort of assistance.' And he promised that they are not going to cut this money."
Karzai described the payments as a form of "government-to-government" assistance, and while he wouldn't say how much the CIA gave to the National Directorate of Security, which is the Afghan intelligence service, he said the financial help was very useful. He said much of the money was used to care for wounded employees of the intelligence service and for operational expenses.
The CIA declined to comment Saturday.
During the news conference at the presidential palace, Karzai also discussed ongoing negotiations on a U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement.
He said Afghanistan was ready to sign a deal as long as the U.S. government, in exchange for being able to stay on bases in the country, agrees to terms of Afghan security, funding assistance and help with training and equipping Afghan security forces.
U.S. Toll in Afghanistan
Source: Department of Defense.