KABUL, Afghanistan — Two American service members were killed and two others were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, the United States military command in Afghanistan said in a statement. They were the first American military fatalities in Afghanistan this year.
The victims were in an American military vehicle that struck a roadside bomb in Kandahar Province, where they had been conducting operations as part of the American-led NATO mission known as Resolute Support, according to the statement.
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The identities of the two killed service members were withheld pending notification of the next of kin. It was not clear which branch of the military they were from.
Twenty American service members were killed in Afghanistan last year. More than 2,400 Americans troops have died in combat since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, according to the website icasualties.org.
The previous American combat death in Afghanistan was in late December last year in northern Kunduz province, where Sgt. First Class Michael J. Goble, 33, of Washington Township, N.J., was killed by a roadside bomb. He was assigned to the First Battalion, Seventh Special Forces Group.
The attack on American service members comes as the leaders of the Taliban are considering whether to comply with the American demand that they reduce violence in the country as a condition for reaching a preliminary peace agreement..
President Trump abruptly called off peace talks in September, after a Taliban attack killed an American soldier and 11 others. He announced the resumption of negotiations in November, during his first visit to Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, Afghan officials said the United States conducted drone strikes in western Afghanistan, in Herat Province, targeting and killing a commander of a Taliban splinter group. The commander, Mullah Nangyalay, had ended his relationship with the main Taliban a couple years ago.
It was unclear whether that strike killed any civilians. Government officials said they are investigating reports of civilians casualties.
Asad Timory contributed reporting from Herat, Afghanistan.