British Afghanistan toll nears 300 as two more die

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Two British soldiers were shot dead Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said, taking the country's military death toll since the US-led invasion to nearly 300.

The announcement came after the ministry said earlier that a marine had died Monday of injuries sustained in a firefight.

The latest deaths made 2010 the second-worst year for British troops in Afghanistan, with 53 people losing their lives so far.

They also took to 298 the number of British troops killed since operations began in October 2001. Of these, at least 264 died as a result of hostile action.

The two soldiers killed Tuesday were shot in separate incidents in the Nad-e Ali district of southern Helmand Province. They were both from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

"Both soldiers were part of security patrols that were involved in operations to improve freedom of movement for local nationals... when they were killed by small arms fire," said Task Force Helmand spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith.

"They died in the course of their duty, amongst their comrades and whilst improving the lives of ordinary Afghans."

The man who died Monday, from 40 Commando Royal Marines, died in a hospital in Birmingham, central England, from injuries he received in a firefight in the town of Sangin in Helmand on Sunday.

"He was part of a foot patrol that was providing local security whilst engineering improvements were being made to a patrol base in Sangin District when the incident happened," said Carr-Smith.

The next of kin of all three troops have been informed.

Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, largely battling Taliban militants in Helmand, making it the second largest contributor to the NATO force in Afghanistan.

© 2010 AFP

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