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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five U.S. service members were killed on Saturday by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, the latest deadly attack against international troops since the Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive this week.
The coalition did not disclose the location of the blast, however, Javeed Faisal, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province, said the coalition patrol hit the roadside bomb in Maiwand district of the province, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban.
Capt. Luca Carniel, a public affairs official for the U.S.-led coalition in Kabul, confirmed that all five were Americans. With the deaths, 47 members of the coalition have been killed so far this year — including 32 Americans.
The renewed violence came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged that his government has been receiving funds from CIA for more than a decade as part of regular monthly assistance from the U.S. government.
Karzai told reporters at a news conference that the CIA's station chief in Kabul has assured him that regular funding the U.S. intelligence agency gives his government will not be cut off.
Karzai had earlier confirmed that his government had received such payments following a story published in The New York Times that said the CIA had given the Afghan National Security Council tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments delivered in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags.
"The help and assistance from the U.S. is for our National Directorate of Security. That is state-to-state, government-to-government regular assistance," Karzai said. "So that is a government institution helping another government institution, and we appreciate all this assistance and help, all this assistance is very useful for us. We have spent it in different areas (and) solved lots of our problems."
Karzai would not say how much assistance his government had received because it was being used for intelligence work, but acknowledged it was in cash and that "all the money which we have spent, receipts have been sent back to the intelligence service of the United States monthly."
He claimed that much of the money was used to care for wounded employees of the NDS, Afghanistan's intelligence service, and operational expenses.
"It is an official government deal between the two governments. This is happening all over the world — such deals between governments — and in Afghanistan, which is a needy country, these sorts of deals are very important and useful," he said.
Karzai confirmed the payments during a news conference earlier this week in Helsinki, Finland. After Karzai's confirmation in Europe, White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment on the newspaper report, referring questions to the CIA, which declined to comment on Saturday.
In his gathering with reporters at the presidential palace, Karzai said he had met earlier in the day with the Kabul station chief of the CIA. "I told him because of all these rumors in the media, please do not cut all this money because we really need it," Karzai said. "We want to continue this sort of assistance and he promised that they are not going to cut this money."
He added that negotiations for a new bilateral security agreement with the United States had been delayed because of conditions that Afghanistan had placed on such a deal. The security agreement is to govern a U.S. military presence after 2014 when nearly all foreign combat troops are to have finished their withdrawal from Afghanistan. The talks, which started in late 2012, are set to last up to a year.