Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Saturday, 1 August 2009 16:45 UK

Western troops die in Afghanistan

French soldier in operation in Kapisa province
France has nearly 3,000 troops in Afghanistan

Four Western soldiers have been killed in separate attacks by insurgents in Afghanistan, officials say.

Three US troops died in roadside bomb blasts in the south of the country, while a French soldier was killed in a gun battle north of the capital, Kabul.

The Americans were killed when their patrol was hit by two devices in Kandahar province, officials said.

The incidents come after July saw the highest monthly death toll for foreign troops since 2001.

There were 43 Americans among the 74 killed.

The French soldier killed was a member of a 230-strong joint French-Afghan force ambushed by Taliban insurgents in a valley in Kapisa province. Two other French troops were wounded.

Afghanistan map

It brings to 29 the number of French dead in the conflict. France has 2,900 troops in Afghanistan.

There are altogether currently more than 100,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan combating a growing Taliban insurgency.

US President Barack Obama has ordered an additional 21,000 troops to the country by the end of the year.

Violence has increased ahead of presidential elections on 20 August.

Civilians and Afghan security officials have also come under attack as insurgents target election candidates and officials.

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