Afghan Violence Leaves 9 Afghan, 1 American Soldiers Dead

Afghan officials say nine security personnel have been killed in a Taliban stronghold, while U.S. officials say an American soldier was killed while carrying out operations against the Islamic State group.

Local officials said Sunday the Afghan forces were killed late Saturday in the Chimtal district of northern Balkh province. Several others were wounded.

The casualties come just ahead of the spring fighting season when the Taliban steps up its battle against Afghan and coalition forces.

Earlier, a spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan said an American soldier was killed late Saturday during an operation against ISIS-Khorasan in Nangarhar Province. ISIS-Khorasan is a branch of Islamic State active in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of South Asia.

Nangarhar is a stronghold of militant activity in Afghanistan. American forces have conducted a number of airstrikes on the area. That activity, combined with the efforts of Afghan ground forces, has pushed the militants out of some of their previous territory. The militants also oppose the Taliban, who have long struggled to regain control of parts of Afghanistan.

The area was once a big producer of opium poppies, but since their cultivation was nearly wiped out in the mid-2000s, the area’s farmers have faced deep poverty and debt.

This was the first U.S. military combat death in 2017. The number of U.S. combat deaths has dropped sharply since U.S. troops stopped leading combat operations in 2014.

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