Two U.S. soldiers were killed and two others injured when their vehicle struck a bomb planted by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, according to a U.S. military statement reported by the Associated Press.
The U.S. military vehicle was traveling in Kandahar province when it hit the roadside bomb. The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which marks the first American deaths in Afghanistan this year.
The attack also comes amid stalled peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban. U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is waiting to hear if the Taliban will agree to a temporary ceasefire, which could open the door for the withdrawal of some American troops.
The Pentagon did not identify the service members who were killed, per Defense Department policy.
Nearly 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed in America's longest-running war, which began in 2001. Last year was one of the deadliest on record with 23 deaths of U.S. service members, the AP reported.
The Taliban have been resurgent since NATO ended its military mission there in 2014, and the group has been conducting almost daily attacks on Afghan and U.S. soldiers, killing many Afghan civilians in the process. More than half of Afghanistan's population now live in districts controlled or contested by the Taliban.
A Taliban spokesperson said this week that increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran will not impact peace talks. Iran has supported the Taliban through providing refuge to militants and their families and routing smuggling networks used to finance the Taliban through Iran, NPR has reported.
U.S. Ambassador John Bass left his post in Kabul this week after two years as the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan. He told NPR's Audie Cornish that a diplomatic agreement between the U.S., the Taliban and the Afghan government is the only way out of the conflict.
"I think wider Afghan society is waiting to see if the Taliban are prepared to act differently and to sit down and try to work out a way to resolve differences within the society through something other than violence," Bass said.
"The Eid cease-fire in 2018, in which Afghans for the first time in 18 years enjoyed three days of peace across the country," he added, "demonstrates what is possible when the Taliban and the government listen to you and respond to that overwhelming desire of the Afghan people for peace."