KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Three U.S. service members were killed
in blasts in Afghanistan, bringing the toll for July to at least 63
and making it the deadliest month for American forces in the nearly
A NATO statement Friday said the three died in two separate
blasts in southern Afghanistan the day before. The statement gave
no nationalities, but U.S. officials say all three were Americans.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity pending notification
U.S. and NATO commanders had warned that casualties would rise
as the international military force ramps up the war against the
Taliban, especially in their southern strongholds in Helmand and
Kandahar provinces. President Barack Obama ordered 30,000
reinforcements to Afghanistan last December in a bid to turn back a
The tally of 63 American service member deaths in July is based
on military reports compiled by The Associated Press. June had been
the deadliest month for both the U.S. and the overall NATO-led
force. A total of 104 international service members died last
month, including 60 Americans.
The American deaths this month include Petty Officer 2nd Class
Justin McNeley from Kingman, Arizona, and Petty Officer 3rd Class
Jarod Newlove, 25, from the Seattle area. They went missing last
Friday in Logar province south of Kabul, and the Taliban announced
they were holding one of the sailors.
McNeley's body was recovered there Sunday and Newlove's body was
pulled from a river Wednesday evening, Afghan officials said. The
Taliban offered no explanation for Newlove's death, but Afghan
officials speculated he died of wounds suffered when the two were
ambushed by the Taliban.
The discovery of Newlove's body only deepened the mystery of the
men's disappearance nearly 60 miles (100 kilometers) from their
base in Kabul. An investigation is under way, but with both sailors
dead, U.S. authorities remain at a loss to explain what two junior
enlisted men in noncombat jobs were doing driving alone in Logar -
much of which is not under government control.
Newlove's father, Joseph Newlove, told KOMO-TV in Seattle that
he too was baffled why his son had left the relative safety of
"He's never been out of that town. So why would he go out of
that town? He wouldn't have," he said.
Senior military officials in Washington, who spoke on condition
of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the
sailors were never assigned anywhere near where their bodies were
A NATO official in Kabul shot down speculation that the two had
been abducted in Kabul and driven to Logar - the same province
where New York Times reporter David Rohde was kidnapped in 2008
while trying to make contact with a Taliban commander. Rohde and an
Afghan colleague escaped in June 2009 after seven months in
captivity, most spent in Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.
Samer Gul, chief of Logar's Charkh district, said the two
sailors, in a four-wheel drive armored SUV, were seen Friday a week
ago by a guard working for the district chief's office. The guard
tried to flag down the vehicle, carrying a driver and a passenger,
but it kept going, Gul said.
Gul said there is a well-paved road that leads into the Taliban
area and suggested the Americans may have mistaken that for the
main highway - which is much older and more dilapidated.
Elsewhere, violence continued Friday.
Four Afghan civilians were killed and three were injured when
their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Zabul province of
southern Afghanistan, provincial spokesman Mohammed Jan Rasoolyar
said. When police arrived at the scene, Taliban fighters opened
fire. One insurgent was killed, the spokesman said.
In Kandahar, a candidate in September's parliamentary election
escaped assassination Friday when a bomb planted on a motorcycle
exploded, city security chief Fazil Ahmad Sherzad said. The
Interior Ministry said a woman and a child were killed and another
child was wounded.