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Taliban Attacks in Afghanistan Kill 10

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Seven U.S. and three NATO soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Monday, making it the deadliest day of the year for the international forces.

In the worst single incident, five American service members were killed in a roadside bomb blast in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. command said. According to reports by the Associated Press, two more U.S. soldiers were killed in separate attacks in the south of the country -- one in a bombing and the other by small arms fire. Three other NATO service members from other countries were also killed in attacks Monday.

In a separate attack, an American contractor died when three suicide bombers attacked the gates of the police training center in Kandahar city, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said. Afghan officials said three police were wounded.

The violence came as President Hamid Karzai's spokesman defended Karzai's decision to remove two of the country's top security officials. The Sunday dismissals drew fire from some political figures linked to the alliance that helped the U.S. oust the Taliban in 2001 and who fear the shake-up will play into the hands of the insurgents at a critical point in the conflict.  

Taliban insurgents have ramped up bombings and attacks on NATO forces in recent weeks, ahead of a major operation in the southern Taliban stronghold of Kandahar that Washington hopes will turn the tide of the war.

June 7 marks the 104th month of Afghan engagement, which began on October 7, 2001, as the U.S. military's Operation Enduring Freedom. According to the news agency Reuters, more than 1,800 foreign service members have died there since the Taliban was overthrown in 2001. The number of foreign troops is about to peak at around 150,000 as part of an offensive against Taliban-controlled areas coupled with a push for development and better governance.

The Taliban says it will not entertain peace until all foreign troops have left, leaving in place government security organizations such as the police and army that are relatively untested without foreign support. The U.S. government has plans to start withdrawing from the country in 2011.