Senior enlisted soldier among US troops killed in series of Taliban attacks

One of the Army's top enlisted soldiers,  a top Army field commander and three U.S. special operations troops were killed in a series of attacks by Taliban forces in eastern and southern Afghanistan.

Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, with the Army's 4th Brigade Combat Team attached to the 4th Infantry division, and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, the brigade's top non-commissioned officer, were among the dead after two Taliban suicide bombers attacked their convoy traveling through Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan. 

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The group was reportedly headed to a meeting with local Afghan leaders in Asadabad when the attack occurred late Thursday, according to recent news reports. 

Air Force Maj. Walter Gray, who was attached to Kennedy's brigade as the unit's air liaison officer, and an official from the U.S. Agency for International Development were also killed in the bombing. 

The U.S. troops were exiting their vehicles and preparing to enter the provincial council building in Asadabad when the bombers struck, according to a Taliban statement claiming responsibility for the attack. 

The second separate attack occurred in the village of Mosa Qala in southern Afghanistan, according to news reports

Three members of Marine Corps Special Operations Command were gunned down by a local Afghan commander. The troops had been coordinating anti-Taliban operations within the area. 

The special operations soldiers were invited to a dinner with the commander and members of the local Afghan police force in Mosa Qala. 

During the dinner, the commander, known as Asadullah, opened fire on the group of Marine special operators, killing three and wounding one. None of the Afghan policemen who reportedly attended the dinner were injured, according to news reports. 

The U.S. casualties come three days after a series of coordinated attacks on civilian and military targets in central and eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday left 10 people dead and dozens wounded, including at least three coalition troops. 

The deadliest attack occurred Tuesday west of Kabul, where Taliban fighters set off a roadside bomb that hit a bus full of Afghan civilians. At least nine people were killed and five wounded in the attack.

That same day in eastern Afghanistan, a suspected Taliban suicide bomber detonated a truck laden with explosives at a NATO base in Pul-i-Alam in Logar province. 

The spike in violence in Afghanistan comes just as thousands of American soldiers are preparing to withdraw from the country. 

The administration's roadmap for U.S. draw-downs in Afghanistan has 32,000 American soldiers coming home this summer. The remaining 68,000 are expected to be stateside by the end of 2014. 

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin as the Army's top non-commissioned officer. Griffin was the top enlisted solider with the 4th Brigade Combat Team attached to the 4th Infantry Division.