American service members, 1 contractor killed in attack in Afghanistan

The militants launched their assault ahead of a widely expected spring offensive

Three U.S. service members and one contractor were killed and three other U.S. troops were wounded Monday by an improvised explosive device near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, according to a news release from Operation Resolute Support.

In February, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he had not received orders from President Donald Trump to reduce the number of USA troops in Afghanistan by half, but US military planners had been tasked with a possible troop reduction after internal discussions began late a year ago, according to USA officials.

Earlier three people were killed in twin explosions in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

In their claim of responsibility, the Taliban said they launched the attack and that one of their suicide bombers detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation base.

Monday marked the first loss of life for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since two U.S. Army soldiers were killed late last month. The names of those killed were being withheld for 24 hours until the notification of next of kin has been completed, as per Defense Department policy. The insurgents dismiss the Afghan government as a US puppet.

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"The area is cordoned off by the coalition forces".

The deadly bombing comes amid ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban aimed at reaching a peace agreement to end the war, now in its 18th year. Abdullah Abdullah shares power with President Ashraf Ghani in a USA -brokered unity government.

Khalilzad met with Taliban negotiators most recently last month in Doha, Qatar, and both parties reported progress following the talks. The Taliban has balked at negotiating with the Afghans, which the group views as an American puppet organization.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers in March that reducing violent extremism by the Taliban and the Islamic State would spur "real negotiations about what a political resolution would look like in Afghanistan, always being mindful of the risk".

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