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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 06:49 GMT
Soldiers die in 'Taleban attack'
Map of Afghanistan
Suspected Taleban rebels have killed four Afghan soldiers in the southern province of Helmand, officials say.

The soldiers are said to have been ambushed while on a patrol in Girishk district. They returned fire but the attackers fled the scene.

Violence has been on the rise in Helmand. A fierce battle between Taleban fighters and Afghan troops earlier this month left 25 dead.

British troops have recently begun setting up bases in Helmand.

They are part of an expanded Nato deployment in southern Afghanistan.

The latest attack is said to have happened late on Thursday.

"The soldiers were patrolling in vehicles when they were attacked," district police chief Khan Mohammad Khan is quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

Taleban threat

The clash in Helmand earlier this month was described as the most serious fighting between the two sides in two years.

Last year, attacks mainly in southern and eastern Afghanistan left more than 1,400 people dead. It was the country's bloodiest year since US-led forces ousted the Taleban in late 2001.

The Nato contingent in the south is replacing a much smaller US force which is hunting the Taleban.

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