Kabul, Afghanistan A U.S. paratrooper and a British soldier died in attacks Saturday as Afghan officials prepared to announce final results from last month's historic legislative elections amid some of the worst bloodshed since the polls.
Violence in the past week killed 23 people, including 14 suspected militants and two worshippers dragged from a mosque and shot, underlining the challenges of bringing stability and strengthening Afghanistan's fledgling democracy four years after the ouster of the Taliban.
Election organizers plan to release the final list of newly elected legislators in the next few days, said Aleem Siddique, a spokesman for the election commission. The announcement has been delayed by widespread fraud that undermined the polls' legitimacy.
Human rights advocates warn that at least half of those listed as provisional winners are former warlords or others still linked to armed groups responsible for much of the violence during the country's quarter-century of war.
In the latest fighting, an American paratrooper was killed Saturday when his patrol came under fire in volatile eastern Khost province, a U.S. military statement said.
American forces responded with small-arms fire, artillery and air attacks, chasing off the militants. It was not immediately clear if any of the assailants were killed.
The death brought to 203 the number of U.S. troops killed in and around Afghanistan since a U.S.-led coalition toppled the Taliban's hard-line Islamic regime in late 2001 after it refused to close al-Qaida bases and turn over Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In the north, gunmen attacked NATO-led peacekeepers as they patrolled in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Saturday, killing one British soldier and wounding five others, Britain's Ministry of Defense said.