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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 July 2006, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Australia may boost Afghan force
Australian and US troops in Zabul province, Afghanistan
Troops in Afghanistan are facing an increasing threat of attack
Australia is considering sending more troops to Afghanistan amid a deteriorating security situation there, Australia's defence minister says.

Brendan Nelson said 120 troops could be sent to bolster security for a 240-strong reconstruction team being deployed later this month.

"The threat level... [has] been increasing substantially over the last few months," he told a TV interviewer.

Australia currently has about 300 troops in Afghanistan.

In January, a new deployment of 110 troops was sent to "fight terrorism", joining 190 special forces already in the country.

Map of Uruzgan province

Later in July a team of 240 engineers and soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan's troubled Uruzgan province, to work alongside Dutch troops on a reconstruction project.

Mr Nelson said he was "very concerned" about escalating violence, particularly in the south of Afghanistan, and had discussed the deployment with the Australian defence force.

"I think there is an argument for us increasing the close ground force protection of our reconstruction taskforce," Mr Nelson said.

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