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NATO: 5 Americans killed in southern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – Five U.S. service members were killed on Saturday by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, the latest deadly attack against international troops since the Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive this week.

The coalition did not disclose the location of the blast, however, Javeed Faisal, a spokesman for the governor ofKandaharprovince, said the coalition patrol hit the roadside bomb in Maiwand district of the province, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban.

Capt. Luca Carniel, a public affairs official for the U.S.-led coalition inKabul, confirmed that all five were Americans. With the deaths, 47 members of the coalition have been killed so far this year – including 32 Americans.

The renewed violence came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged that his government has been receiving funds fromCIAfor more than a decade as part of regular monthly assistance from theU.S.government.

Karzai told reporters at a news conference that theCIA's station chief inKabulhas assured him that regular funding theU.S.intelligence agency gives his government will not be cut off.

Karzai had earlier confirmed that his government had received such payments following a story published in The New York Times that said theCIAhad given the Afghan National Security Council tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments delivered in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags.

"The help and assistance from theU.S.is for our National Directorate of Security. That is state-to-state, government-to-government regular assistance," Karzai said. "So that is a government institution helping another government institution, and we appreciate all this assistance and help, all this assistance is very useful for us. We have spent it in different areas (and) solved lots of our problems."

Karzai would not say how much assistance his government had received because it was being used for intelligence work, but acknowledged it was in cash and that "all the money which we have spent, receipts have been sent back to the intelligence service of the United States monthly."

He claimed that much of the money was used to care for wounded employees of the NDS,Afghanistan's intelligence service, and operational expenses.

"It is an official government deal between the two governments. This is happening all over the world – such deals between governments – and inAfghanistan, which is a needy country, these sorts of deals are very important and useful," he said.

Karzai confirmed the payments during a news conference earlier this week inHelsinki,Finland. After Karzai's confirmation inEurope, White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment on the newspaper report, referring questions to theCIA, which also declined comment.

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