(bon pour tous) Cameron pays tribute to fallen US, Afghan troops
British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the US and Afghan troops killed when Taliban insurgents shot down their helicopter in Afghanistan on Saturday.
"I was deeply saddened to hear of the many US military personnel who lost their lives today in Afghanistan. My thoughts -- and the thoughts of the whole country -- are with their families and friends," Cameron said in a statement.
Thirty-one US and seven Afghan special forces died, officials said, in the biggest single loss yet for foreign troops in a decade-long war.
The death toll was given by Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office but it was not immediately confirmed by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
"They have made the ultimate sacrifice in helping to protect our security, and to build a more stable and peaceful Afghanistan. We remember too the Afghan troops who died alongside them today," Cameron said.
"Britain, and our own armed forces serving in Afghanistan, will continue to work steadfastly alongside their US and Afghan colleagues as they help prepare Afghanistan to secure its own territory."
Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor to ISAF after the United States. Cameron wants all British troops out of a combat role in Afghanistan by 2015.
The helicopter incident came the day after a British marine was killed in Afghanistan in an insurgent grenade attack on his checkpoint, the 30th British soldier involved in the campaign to die this year.
He was named Saturday as 22-year-old James Wright, from Weymouth on the southern English coast.
His death brings to 378 the number of British troops killed since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001. Of these, at least 333 were killed through hostile action.
© 2011 AFP