WASHINGTON — A roadside bomb killed five U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan Thursday, a Pentagon official told Reuters, less than a week after 30 American forces were killed in the deadliest incident involving U.S. troops in the Afghan war.

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The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had previously said that five foreign troops had been killed, but declined to give their nationalities. Asked by Reuters, a Pentagon spokesman said they were American troops.

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At least 50 foreign troops have been killed so far in August.

Another foreign soldier was also killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, ISAF said, giving no further details.

Violence is at its worst in Afghanistan since U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001, with high levels of foreign troop deaths and record civilian casualties during the first six months of 2011.

Overnight, Taliban insurgents also attacked a police checkpoint in southern Helmand province, killing five Afghan policemen, Helmand police chief Abdul Hakim Angar said. No further details of the incident were available.

The spike in casualties -- almost 390 foreign troops have been killed so far this year , compared to a record 711 in 2010 -- comes at a time of growing unease about the increasingly unpopular and costly war.

Afghan security forces have been hit even harder than foreign troops. A total of 1,292 Afghan police and 821 Afghan soldiers were killed last year, said the Afghan government.

But it is civilians who have borne the brunt of the war. U.N. figures show a record 1,462 Afghan civilians were killed in conflict-related incidents in the first six months of 2011.

Last month foreign troops began the first phase of a gradual process to hand security control to Afghan soldiers and police. That process is due to end with the last foreign combat troops leaving at the end of 2014, but some U.S. lawmakers are questioning whether that timetable is fast enough.

A Chinook troop-carrying helicopter crashed five days ago in central Afghanistan after it was likely hit by a rocket fired by the Taliban, killing 30 U.S. troops, seven Afghan troops and one Afghan civilian interpreter.

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ISAF said on Wednesday that it had killed the Taliban militants responsible for shooting down the helicopter.

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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