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Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Nato soldiers 'believed drowned'

Nato soldier in Afghanistan
Nato troops are facing rising violence in western Afghanistan

Two US soldiers missing in western Afghanistan after failing to return from a routine resupply mission are thought to have drowned, officials say.

Afghan officials say the men died two days ago in what appears to have been an accident.

They died trying to recover supplies dropped by Nato aircraft which had fallen into a river, police said.

A Taliban spokesman told Reuters news agency that they recovered the bodies in Badghis province.

Provincial police chief Abdul Jabar said that the two servicemen were Americans who drowned after arriving in the area during a gun battle on Wednesday.

Police said that the incident happened after Nato aircraft "dropped some logistical packages for a Nato base in [Badghis] province and a number of these packages went into the river nearby".

"Two NATO soldiers went to take these packages from the river and drowned," Badghis deputy police chief Abdul Jabar, told the AFP news agency.

In a statement released earlier on Friday, Nato did not give the soldiers' nationalities or say which province they had been in when they went missing

Military officials said the families of the two soldiers had been informed.

Rising violence

Nato added that three of its troops were killed in two separate roadside bomb attacks on Thursday. Two of the soldiers were American, but the nationality of the third was not given.

"The families of these service members have been notified about their loved ones' status and we will continue to keep them informed as information becomes available," a Nato spokeswoman said.

Soldiers from more than 40 countries are taking part in Nato's force of nearly 110,000 troops in Afghanistan, two-thirds of them from the US.

The biggest contingents operating in the west of the country are from the United States and Italy.

Western Afghanistan has recently seen a rise in violence, with Taliban insurgents planting roadside bombs to maximise fatalities. This year more than 400 troops have been killed, most of them Americans.

US President Barack Obama is currently considering a request from the military to increase troop numbers by up to 40,000, a decision that is not likely to be made imminently.

The senior Nato commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, has warned that without an increase on the ground, the war could be lost.



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