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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006, 06:56 GMT 07:56 UK
Australia to boost Afghan force
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Australian and US troops in Zabul province, Afghanistan
Troops in Afghanistan are facing an increasing threat of attack
Australia is sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Canberra has said that an extra 150 soldiers will be deployed because of the worsening security situation in the country.

The additional forces will strengthen a 240-strong army reconstruction unit that is due to leave Australia for Afghanistan next month.

The government believes tackling extremism in Afghanistan is a key part in the global war on extremism.

The extra Australian soldiers will help protect a team of army engineers and tradesmen and women.

They will leave next month for Afghanistan's troubled southern region.

Heavily-armed insurgents have killed at least seven international peacekeepers there in the last week and a half. The violence has not been this intense since the former Taleban government was deposed in 2001.

The Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said that although foreign soldiers face great danger, Canberra would not abandon Afghanistan as it made the transition from conflict to peace and stability.

Australia already has 300 troops in Afghanistan, including 190 special forces commandoes.

They were deployed almost a year ago to bolster security for last September's elections.

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