Page last updated at 00:29 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Afghan blasts kill Canada troops

Canadian soldiers speak to Afghans in Kandahar province (28 March 2008)
Canada has about 2,500 soldiers based in southern in Afghanistan

Four Canadian soldiers have been killed and eight injured in two separate blasts in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, say Canadian officials.

The deaths bring the number of Canadians killed while serving in the conflict in Afghanistan to 116.

An Afghan interpreter was also killed in one of the attacks, and a second Afghan national was injured.

Canada has about 2,500 troops based in the south of Afghanistan as part of Nato's mission to fight the Taleban.

Canada's military mandate in the country is set to end in 2011.

Brig Gen Jonathan Vance, head of the Canadian forces in Afghanistan, said two soldiers and the interpreter died when a bomb went off near their patrol in Zhari district, west of Kandahar city.

The attack injured five Canadian soldiers and an Afghan civilian, he said.

Later, two other soldiers died and three were wounded by a roadside bomb in Shah Wali Kot district, northwest of the city.

Brig Gen Vance praised the soldiers for efforts and said their deaths did not indicate "a failure on the part of any person or of the mission itself".

"Success in war is costly," he said.

"We are determined to succeed so that Afghan lives improve. But the insurgents are equally determined to challenge and prevent Afghanistan from flourishing as the nation it so wants to be."

Troops increase

The attacks followed a day of violence in Afghanistan.

Earlier, officials in Jowzjan province in the north of the country said a district chief and several police officers had been killed by insurgents.

The US military said Afghan and international troops had killed 33 militants in separate clashes in Helmand and Logar provinces.

Also in Logar, three militants died when Afghan and US troops attacked a camp.

US President Barack Obama has approved the deployment of a further 17,000 military personnel to Afghanistan amid concerns about a resurgent Taleban.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that the US was planning to more than double Afghanistan's national security forces - creating a force of about 400,000 Afghan troops and police officers - in an attempt to bring stability to the country.

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