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August Deadliest Month for U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

As August becomes the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, post-election tension continues to increase. A Washington Post reporter provides an update from Kabul.

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    An American service member was killed in a bomb blast in Eastern Afghanistan today, making August the deadliest month for U.S. military forces in the eight-year war. The death brought the monthly toll to 45, exceeding last month's previous record.

    In all, the Associated Press reports, 732 American service members have died since 2001. And, even as the violence continued, ballots were still being counted from last week's presidential vote.

    Margaret Warner continues our lead story report. She spoke earlier today to Washington Post correspondent Pam Constable in Kabul.


    Pam Constable, welcome.

    There was this deadly milestone today, U.S. military fatalities hitting an all-time monthly high. What do U.S. commanders attribute this increase to?


    Well, I think it's clear that the Taliban is proving to be a far more resilient and aggressive and sophisticated enemy than almost anyone had predicted several years ago and even — maybe even several months ago.

    They are — are ruthless. They are intent on — on undermining the foreign presence and the government of this country. And they are a very wily guerrilla opponent that is not going to give up easily.


    Is the U.S. troop buildup also contributing to the higher rate of fatalities?


    In a way, yes. It's ironic.

    You know, the more international forces and the more international weaponry comes here, the more they stir up the hornet's nest of the Taliban and provoke a retaliation, which, in a sense, they want.

    The problem is that — that this causes a surge in violence and a surge in — in conflict, temporarily. One hopes that that will not last a very long time. But it's almost inevitable that, as the — as the international troop presence increases, so will the level of violence.


    And with those bloody bombings in Kandahar and elsewhere this week, the Taliban seems to be also killing and terrorizing the Afghan population.


    Absolutely. They kill teachers. They kill mayors. They kill anyone who works with the government. They have killed and maimed people who dared exercise their right to vote.