Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two American, two British troops killed in Afghanistan


Tuesday, 01 Sep, 2009

KABUL: Bombs killed four Nato troops — two Americans and two Britons — ending the deadliest month of the war for US forces as the top Nato commander called for a new strategy to confront the Taliban, AP reported.

The US military said the two Americans were killed Monday in separate explosions in southern Afghanistan but gave no further details. Their deaths brought to 47 the number of US troops who have died in the Afghan war in August — three more than in July which had been the deadliest month.

In London, the British Ministry of Defense said the two British soldiers were killed the same day by a bomb on a foot patrol north of Lashkar Gah, a southern Afghan city where Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid a surprise visit last weekend and promised help for his embattled force.

US casualties have been mounting since President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, shifting the focus of the war on extremism from Iraq to this country where the global conflict began nearly eight years ago.

Since the reinforcements began arriving last spring, American deaths have climbed from six in April to 12 in May, 24 in June to more than 40 for the next two months as US troops push into areas of the country long under Taliban rule.

The latest casualties occurred as the top US and Nato commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent his much-anticipated strategic review of the Afghan war to the Pentagon and Nato headquarters.

‘The situation in Afghanistan is serious, but success is achievable and demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort,’ McChrystal said in a statement Monday.

McChrystal did not ask for more troops but is expected to do so in a separate request in a couple weeks, two Nato officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

The US already has about 62,000 troops in Afghanistan — a record number — and will have 68,000 by the end of the year. In total there are more than 100,000 US and Nato troops in the country. There were roughly 250,000 international forces in Iraq during the 2003 invasion.

US officials had hoped that the Aug. 20 presidential election would establish an Afghan government with the legitimacy to combat the Taliban, corruption and the flourishing drug trade.

The vote, however, was clouded by allegations of widespread fraud as well as threats and intimidation by the Taliban.

New vote tallies released Monday showed President Hamid Karzai leading with 45.8 per cent of the votes counted, with top challenger Abdullah Abdullah trailing with 33.2 per cent. Ballots have been counted from almost half of the country’s voting stations. Karzai needs 50 per cent of the votes to avoid a runoff.

On Monday, an Afghan man told reporters that Taliban militants cut off his nose and both ears as he headed for a polling station in central Afghanistan.

‘I regret that I went to vote,’ Lal Mohammad said from a hospital bed in Kabul, crying and trying to hide his disfigured face. ‘What is the benefit of voting to me?’

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