Three soldiers, one civilian killed in Afghanistan: NATO

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Three foreign soldiers -- including a Dutch and a French national -- and a civilian working with NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were on Saturday killed in Afghanistan, the alliance said.

"Two ISAF service members and a civilian working with ISAF died following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan today," ISAF said, without disclosing the soldiers' nationality, in keeping with NATO policy.

"In a separate incident, also in southern Afghanistan, another ISAF service member died following an improvised explosive device (IED) attack," the statement, said referring to the Taliban insurgents' weapon of choice.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy later identified one of the soldiers killed as a French captain from an engineering regiment, while Dutch authorities said another was 25-year-old corporal Luc Janzen.

The latest casualties bring the number of foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year to 215, according to an AFP tally based on the website.

In 2009, the deadliest year since the United States led an invasion that overthrew the Taliban regime in late 2001, 520 foreign soldiers were killed.

The United States and its NATO allies are increasing to 150,000 their military deployment in Afghanistan, about two-thirds of which is American.

The United States believes the "surge" of troops can wrest the initiative from the Taliban in key population centres and allow foreign forces to start withdrawing from the unpopular and costly conflict next year.

The latest French casualty brings to 42 the number of French troops to have been killed in Afghanistan, where the country currently has 3,500 troops stationed.

The Netherlands, which has around 1,950 troops in Afghanistan, has lost 24 soldiers since the Dutch mission began in 2006.

© 2010 AFP

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