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Four American soldiers serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan died Monday in an explosion in the country’s south, NATO and a defense department official said, bringing home the human cost of the U.S.-led push into Taliban strongholds.

The official said they were hit by an improvised explosive device. He spoke on condition of anonymity because relatives of those killed were still being notified. The latest deaths make a total of 16 NATO service members killed so far this month, and 167 so far this year.

The latest casualties came as the second-ranking U.S. general in Afghanistan said Monday it was too early to tell if the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan will have an impact on the Afghan war effort.

Source: Patrick Quinn for the Associated Press.

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