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6 Americans killed in Afghanistan attacks

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Militants killed six Americans, including a young female diplomat, and an Afghan doctor yesterday in a pair of attacks in Afghanistan. It was the deadliest day for the United States in the war in eight months.

The violence -- hours after the American military's top officer arrived for consultations with Afghan and U.S.-led coalition officials -- illustrates the instability plaguing the nation as foreign forces work to pull nearly all their combat troops out of the country by the end of 2014.

The attacks came just days after insurgents stormed a courthouse, killing more than 46 people in one of the deadliest attacks of the war, now in its 12th year.

Three U.S. service members, two U.S. civilians and the Afghan doctor were killed when the group was struck by an explosion while traveling to donate books to students in a school in the south, Afghan officials and the U.S. State Department said. Another American civilian was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said.

In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said the slain Americans included a Department of Defense civilian and the female foreign service officer.

The female diplomat "tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future," Kerry said.

The latest attacks occurred just hours after U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, landed in Afghanistan to assess the level of training that American troops can provide to Afghan security forces after international combat forces complete their withdrawal.

A U.S. official said several other Americans and Afghans, possibly as many as nine, were wounded.

The State Department said four of their staff were wounded, one critically.

Officials said the explosion in the south occurred just as a coalition convoy drove past a caravan of vehicles carrying the governor of Zabul province to the book event.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for that attack and said the bomber was seeking to target either a coalition convoy or the governor.

"We were waiting for one of them," Ahmadi said in a telephone interview. "It was our good luck that both appeared at the same time."

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