Two U.S. soldiers and three Afghans were killed while the soldiers were trying to disable a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, a local journalist at the scene told CNN.
The U.S. military said it is trying to gather more details about the incident. The soldiers were part of a convoy of coalition soldiers accompanying Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand province, to a village where he intended to talk to residents about alternatives to opium farming. The convoy came upon two bombs stacked on top of each other, said journalist Abdul Tawab Qureshi. When the soldiers tried to disable the bombs, the second one went off, he said. The blast also killed the police chief of the province’s Nad Ali district, Mohammed Nader; a police officer; and a translator. Over the years, opium and heroin, both derivatives of the poppy, have served as a major source of revenue for the insurgency, most notably the Taliban movement that once ruled Afghanistan. Though southern Afghanistan still provides about two-thirds of the world’s opium and heroin, poppy cultivation has dropped by 20 percent to its lowest level since 2006.