British soldier, insurgent commanders killed in Afghanistan

Other News Materials 17 February 2009 11:52 (UTC +04:00)

A British soldier was killed while on patrol in southern Afghanistan while Afghan and US-led forces killed at least seven insurgents, including commanders, officials said Tuesday, dpa reported.

The British soldier died of wounds he received Monday in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, the British Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Another British soldier was killed in a Taliban ambush in the same province Saturday. The latest deaths brought to 145 the number of British troops killed in Afghanistan since their deployment after the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

More than 8,000 British soldiers are stationed in Helmand as part of the 55,000-strong NATO-led force that has deployed to the country from 41 nations.

 NATO also confirmed the death of the British soldier.

Meanwhile, US-led coalition troops killed several insurgent commanders Tuesday in a "precision strike" in the Gozara district of the western province of Herat, the US military said in statement.

One of the militant commanders was affiliated with the Hezb-e-Islam, an associate group of the Taliban, while the rest were Taliban commanders, the statement said.

"Once the exact location of the militants was confirmed, coalition forces engaged the hideout with a precision strike, destroying two vehicles and killing the militants inside their compound," it said.

Separately, five insurgents were killed Monday in an operation jointly carried out by US and Afghan soldiers in the Qala Ga District of the south-western province of Farah, the US military said.

It said no military or civilians casualties were reported during the operation.

In Helmand's Nad Ali district, Afghan army forces killed an insurgent and detained 13 Monday after the militants attacked their convoy, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

No Afghan troops were hurt in the firefight, it said.

Taliban militants are stepping up their attacks on Afghan and international forces as the weather warms in eastern and southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban has its strongest bases.

The militants have vowed to increase their attacks during the spring and summer while General David McKiernan, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, has asked for more combat forces, support troops and helicopters.

US President Barack Obama, who has repeatedly said the fight against terrorism was the top priority for his administration, is expected to make a decision "within days" on how many additional forces to send to Afghanistan and when.

Pentagon officials have said that the extra troops would not exceed 30,000 soldiers, which would nearly double the US forces in the country.