Two British, two US soldiers die in Afghanistan blasts

17th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Five NATO soldiers including two British and two Americans have died in Taliban-style bomb attacks in Afghanistan, NATO and British authorities said Saturday.

One British and one American soldier were killed in two attacks on Saturday while the other troopers died a day earlier, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Britain's defence ministry said.

Another NATO soldier was killed in a separate attack on Saturday, ISAF said, without giving the trooper's nationality.

ISAF said the four other deaths were the result of three separate attacks employing improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, the single biggest killer in the nearly nine year-old war.

The British casualties included a marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines, who died in an explosion in the volatile Sangin district of southern Helmand province on Friday.

The second soldier, from The Royal Dragoon Guards, died in a blast in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand on Saturday, the ministry said.

He was part of a patrol providing security to allow the construction of new roads and security bases, it said.

An airman from Britain's Royal Air Force Regiment who was serving as part of the Camp Bastion Force Protection Wing in Helmand died on Friday in a traffic accident, British military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith said.

The American casualties occurred in the south and east of the country, an ISAF spokesman said.

US troops have been involved in a major offensive in eastern Kunar province, partnering with Afghan forces to reportedly take on insurgents massed near the Pakistani border.

Little has been said officially about the progress of the operation, though ISAF has announced significant casualties from the region in recent weeks.

Casualty figures for international troops in Afghanistan have spiked in the past two months, with 102 in June, the highest monthly toll since the war began soon after a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001.

A total of 377 foreign soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan since the start of this year, according to an AFP tally based on one kept by the independent website

Some 321 British forces, personnel and civilians working for the MoD have now died in Afghanistan since 2001. Britain has around 10,000 troops in the country as part of the international force fighting the Taliban.

Britain's Ministry of Defence said the families of the latest victimes have been informed.

Earlier this week, a renegade Afghan soldier killed three British troops on an army base in Helmand.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said last month he wants the country's combat troops to withdraw from Afghanistan within five years, without fixing a precise timetable.

ISAF also announced the capture of a Taliban activist whom "intelligence indicated ... was involved in coordinating an attack in Kabul during the upcoming Kabul Conference," it said in a separate statement.

The international conference is set for Tuesday and expected to be attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives from more than 70 countries and international organisations.

The force did not give details of the suspects or several others it said had been detained with him.

NATO and the United States have close to 150,000 troops in the country, with 30,000 deployed to the southern Taliban heartland -- Helmand and Kandahar provinces -- since the beginning of this year.

They are the crux of US President Barack Obama's counter-insurgency effort, which aims to take the fight to the Taliban in an bid to speed an end to the war as public opinion continues to turn against continued commitment.

Obama has said he wants to start drawing down US troops by the middle of 2011, conditional on Afghanistan's own forces being trained to take on responsibility for the country's security.


© 2010 AFP

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