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      Three SC Army Guardsmen killed, 5 wounded in Afghanistan

      Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley

      COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) - Three South Carolina Army National Guard soldiers were killed in Afghanistan Wednesday when their patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber.

      The South Carolina National Guard said 1st Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, 30, of Lexington, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley, and Spc. John David Meador II, 36, of Columbia were killed in Khowst City, Khowst Province, Afghanistan.

      Authorities say five other South Carolina National Guard soldiers were also wounded. All eight soldiers are assigned to the 133rd Military Police Company, headquartered in Timmonsville.

      Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston told the Associated Press the attack claimed 21 lives in all.

      Livingston says the South Carolina soldiers' deaths are the first connected to a South Carolina Guard unit in Afghanistan since October 2010, when two were killed.

      According to Col. Pete Brooks, the mission of the 133rd MP Company in Afghanistan is to train members of the Afghan Uniformed Police in Khowst Province.

      Brooks says 170 soldiers were deployed with the unit in November. The Company is scheduled to return home in August.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)