Pentagon chief mourns death of six American troops in Afghanistan

Pentagon chief mourns death of six American troops in Afghanistan
© Greg Nash

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter offered his sympathies to the families of six U.S. troops killed Monday in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan.

“It is with deep regret that I learned today that six U.S. service members died in Afghanistan Monday,” Carter said in a written statement. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of these brave Americans who died in service to this vital mission, and our thoughts remain with all of our troops serving overseas during this holiday season so that we may have peace and security at home.”

Two other U.S. troops were injured in the attack, Carter said.

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At about 1:30 p.m. local time, an attacker on a motorbike detonated an explosive while Afghan and international forces were patrolling in Bagram, which is home to the largest U.S. military base in the country.

The blast killed six and injured three. A U.S. official earlier told The Hill all six casualties were American.

Monday’s suicide bombing represents one of the deadliest attacks since the U.S. officially ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in December 2104. A total of 9,800 troops remain in the country to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and carry out counter-terrorism operations.

Prior to Monday, at least 15 U.S. troops were killed this year in Afghanistan, with many of the deaths caused by aircraft crashes or indirect fire.

In his statement, Carter said Monday’s attack serves as a reminder that troops in Afghanistan are still in danger.

“It serves as a painful reminder of the dangers our troops face every day in Afghanistan,” he said.

“As I saw firsthand during my visit to Afghanistan last Friday, our troops are working diligently alongside our Afghan partners to build a brighter future for the Afghan people," he added. "Their dedicated efforts will continue despite this tragic event.”