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Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 13:10 UK

Foreign forces' worst Afghan toll

British tank in Afghanistan
Coalition troops are increasingly falling victim to roadside bombs

The month of June has been the deadliest for foreign troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 fall of the Taleban, official figures show.

Correspondents say it was also the second month in a row in which casualties exceeded those in Iraq.

Military statements throughout June show that at least 45 foreign troops died as a result of war or accidents.

They were serving either with the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) or the US-led coalition.

'Resurgent militia'

More than 40% of the 122 foreign soldiers who have died in Afghanistan during 2008 were killed in June, according to official figures collated by the independent website icasualties.org.

Most were killed by roadside bombs hitting their convoys or patrols.

Isaf spokesman Gen Carlos Branco said that the high casualty figures should be seen in the context of a higher number of international troops fighting the Taleban.

Afghan soldier by the bodies of Taleban militants
The coalition says that it killing large numbers of insurgents

"Isaf has much more soldiers now than in the past and is now going to places where it was not going before," Gen Branco told the AFP news agency.

The icasualties website says that 31 soldiers - including 29 Americans - were killed in Iraq in June although there are twice as many troops there as in Afghanistan.

Correspondents say that the Afghan casualty figures reflect a series of headline-grabbing insurgent attacks by the Taleban which underscores their growing strength.

In June the insurgents staged a mass jailbreak that freed about 900 prisoners in Kandahar, before occupying a strategically important valley on the outskirts of the city.

Relief efforts

Last week, a Pentagon report predicted that a resurgent Taleban was likely to step up the scope of its attacks during 2008.

In a report on security in Afghanistan, it warned the Islamist guerrillas had "coalesced into a resilient insurgency" and were likely to "maintain or even increase the scope and pace of their terrorist attacks".

Taleban fighter in Afghanistan
The Taleban are proving to be a formidable enemy

The month of June also saw the international community meet in Paris to pledge about $20bn (10bn) to rebuild Afghanistan - while at the same time demanding that more efforts are made to to stamp out corruption and co-ordinate relief efforts.

US Regional Commander Maj Gen Jeffrey Schloesser said in the same month that attacks by Taleban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan had increased by 40% compared with the same period last year.

Maj Gen Schloesser said insurgents were choosing targets to disrupt economic development.

Correspondents say that the higher casualty levels in Afghanistan compared with Iraq reflect falling levels of violence in Iraq as much as they do rising violence in Afghanistan.




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