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Afghan violence

By
United Press International
Leon Panetta speaks after he was sworn-in as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at CIA Headquarters in McLean, Virginia on February 19, 2009. (UPI Photo/Alexis C. Glenn)
Leon Panetta speaks after he was sworn-in as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at CIA Headquarters in McLean, Virginia on February 19, 2009. (UPI Photo/Alexis C. Glenn) | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Eight Americans linked to the CIA and five Canadians, including a journalist, have been killed in attacks in Afghanistan.

The U.S. deaths were the result of a suicide bomber at a base in Khost province, near the Afghan border with Pakistan. The Canadians died in Kandahar, a southern province, when the vehicle in which they were traveling hit a roadside bomb.

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The Taliban claimed responsibility for both bombings.

In Khost, the attacker was able to gain entrance to the post apparently because he was disguised as an Afghan solider. CIA Director Leon Panetta, speaking Thursday in Washington, confirmed seven of the dead were with the CIA.

The Washington Post reported that Panetta sent a message to CIA employees saying:

"Those who fell yesterday were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism. We owe them our deepest gratitude, and we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives -- a safer America.

In Kandahar, Calgary Journal reporter Michelle Long, 34, who had recently arrived in Afghanistan for a six-week stint with Canadian military personnel in the country. She was in an armored vehicle touring construction projects when the bomb was detonated. The four other deaths in the incident pushed Canada's military death toll to 32 for the year and 138 over the course of the Afghan war.

A total of 309 U.S. military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan in 2009 and 949 since the war began in 2001.