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Originally published Friday, July 30, 2010 at 10:05 PM

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U.S. casualties in Afghanistan soar to record high in month of July

The deaths of at least 66 soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen have made July the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan. The tally includes six U.S. military personnel who died in four attacks in southern Afghanistan on Thursday and Friday.

The New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — The deaths of at least 66 soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen have made July the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan. The tally includes six U.S. military personnel who died in four attacks in southern Afghanistan on Thursday and Friday.

The growing toll follows an increase in the U.S. troop commitment that stands at 95,000, along with a concerted effort by Taliban militants to slow major NATO offensives in the Taliban heartlands of southern Afghanistan. At least 265 U.S. troops have died this year. The website icasualties.org reported 63 U.S. deaths for July; a NATO official confirmed three additional U.S. deaths Friday.

After a dip in U.S. deaths last spring, U.S. fatalities have been rising, from 19 in April to 34 in May to 60 in June.

Last month's deaths for the entire NATO-led force reached a record 104, including the 60 Americans. This month's coalition death count stands at 89, including the 66 Americans.

By the end of August, U.S. troop strength is expected to reach 100,000, three times the number in early 2009. Commanders say more troops inevitably means more casualties.

Afghan casualties also are rising, undercutting the support of Afghan society and complicating the military mission.

In Kabul on Friday, a crowd of hundreds of Afghans rioted after a sport-utility vehicle carrying U.S. Embassy contractors struck a car filled with Afghans, killing at least three of them, the Afghan police said.

The riot happened Friday afternoon on the busy road that connects the U.S. Embassy and military headquarters in Kabul with the city's airport.

The crowd chanted "Death to America" and "Death to foreigners."

Four contractors were in the vehicle, the embassy said. An Afghan police officer said the contractors traded fire with the police, but spokeswomen from their company, DynCorp International, and the U.S. Embassy said the contractors did not fire any shots.

The mob raged while two vehicles rushed to the scene to evacuate the contractors, police and witnesses said. Two of the company's SUVs were set afire. The DynCorp employees are working under a State Department contract.

According to a person briefed on the episode, none of the contractors was injured in the crash, but three suffered injuries in the riot; one sustained a concussion.

Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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