A bomb killed four people, including two US-led soldiers, in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand on Sunday in an attack claimed by Taliban rebels.
The explosion was in the dangerous Nad Ali district, one of Afghanistan’s main opium-growing areas where Taliban insurgents are said to earn money by protecting the lucrative crop from US-backed efforts to eliminate it.
It came as the US warned its allies at a security conference in Germany that fighting the insurgency could prove tougher than stabilizing Iraq and appealed, along with Britain, for more troops and equipment.
“Two coalition service members, one member of the Afghan National Civil Order Police and one local national civilian were killed today by an improvised explosive device in Helmand,” the US-led coalition said.
Helmand deputy police chief Kamalodin Khan told AFP the group had been checking an improvised explosive device that they believed had been defused.
“Two American advisers, an Afghan interpreter and a policeman were killed,” he said, adding that the bomb was detonated by remote control.
The Taliban said it carried out the attack. Two “American soldiers” and several Afghan police were killed in the blast, spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi said by telephone.
Nad Ali, east of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, is a dangerous desert area that is largely out of government control.
US security contractors and soldiers, as well as British troops, have been based in the district with Afghan security forces for nearly two weeks as part of a push to destroy the illegal opium crop.
They have come under attack several times but without loss of life, officials said late last week.
Links between the drugs trade and insurgents, who earn money by protecting trafficking routes and opium fields, have led the NATO-led force that works alongside the US coalition to step up efforts to help fight the business.