KABUL, Afghanistan - Five Americans were killed when a bomb targeted a convoy in southern Afghanistan on Saturday in the deadliest single combat incident for U.S. citizens this year.
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described the dead as "an exceptional young Foreign-Service officer," a "Department of Defense civilian" and "service members."
In a separate statement, NATO confirmed that three soldiers had died, but did not identify them by their nationality. Kerry, however, noted that "We also honor the U.S. troops ... who lost their lives."
Americans are the primary international military force in Zabul province, where the bombing took place.
NATO on Saturday also announced the death of a sixth American, a civilian worker who was killed in eastern Afghanistan. That made the day's U.S. toll equal to the total number of American combat deaths that the Pentagon announced in March.
Four other State Department employees were wounded in the explosion, Kerry said, including one who was in critical condition.
The explosion also killed two Afghan civilians and narrowly missed the Zabul governor, Mohammad Ashraf Nasert.
According to the province's spokesman, Sharif Nasiri, the attack took place at about 11 a.m. in the provincial capital, Qalat, when a suicide bomber detonated as the governor's convoy passed the headquarters of the local NATO provincial reconstruction team on its way to the dedication of a school near the NATO base.
Kerry said the Americans had been targeted by "an IED" or improvised explosive device, as they were on their way to donate books to the school.
"Just last week in Kabul, I met our fallen officer when she was selected to support me during my visit to Afghanistan," Kerry said. "She was everything a Foreign Service officer should be: smart, capable, eager to serve and deeply committed to our country and the difference she was making for the Afghan people."
Kerry did not release the woman's name. He said he had spoken to her parents "and offered what little comfort I can for their immeasurable loss."
The attack coincided with the unannounced arrival of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, who visited Afghanistan to assess what training Afghan forces will need after the combat role of the U.S.-led NATO force ends in 2014.
That determination will help set the number of American troops that the United States will assign to Afghanistan after 2014.
U.S. Toll in Afghanistan
Source: Department of Defense