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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Two UK troops die in Afghanistan
Soldiers in Afghanistan
UK troops took over from US forces in Helmand earlier this year
Two British soldiers have been killed in fighting with Taleban forces in Afghanistan, officials have confirmed.

The troops were on night patrol in Sangin, in the volatile southern province of Helmand, when they were attacked by Taleban militia.

A rocket-propelled grenade destroyed a vehicle. Two soldiers died in the fighting and one was seriously hurt.

The UK's Ministry of Defence said: "We believe the soldier's injuries are not life-threatening at present."

Meanwhile, in Kunduz province in the north of Afghanistan at least two civilians were killed when a suspected suicide car bomber rammed a German convoy, police said. No peacekeepers were hurt.

And in fighting elsewhere, at least two Afghan soldiers and about 30 suspected militants were killed, Afghan and US-led coalition forces said.

Captain Drew Gibson, a spokesman for the British military in southern Afghanistan, said the two UK soldiers killed in Helmand had been taking part in a "planned operation".

"The patrol was supported by close air support and by the quick reaction force that came out to support them," he said.

"Both those forces were then involved in separate contact incidents, and both were supported by close air support and artillery."

'Great sorrow'

Defence Secretary Des Browne expressed his condolences to their families at an event to mark the UK's first National Veterans' Day.

He told hundreds of war veterans: "It is with great sorrow that I begin this speech by confirming that two of our armed forces have been killed in Afghanistan."

Mr Browne said his deepest sympathy went to the soldiers' loved ones, adding that it was not appropriate at this stage to give more details of events surrounding their deaths.

"We are here of course today to honour Veterans' Day and the events last night in Afghanistan serve as a powerful reminder of the highest price that many members of our armed services have paid across the years," he added.

The soldiers who died were the second and third British troops killed in Helmand, an area known for Taleban activity and opium production.

Captain Jim Philippson, of 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, was killed earlier this month.

'Under Taleban control'

The company of troops arrived in Sangin last week after about 40 members of the Afghan security forces had been killed in heavy fighting.

Sangin map

The BBC's Alastair Leithead, with British troops in Afghanistan, has confirmed that the two soldiers killed had been travelling in a fortified "Snatch" Land Rover.

His understanding is that they had left the vehicle when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The defence secretary said on Monday the use of the vehicles by British forces in Iraq is to be reviewed.

They have been criticised for being a "soft target", especially for the roadside bombs which have killed a number of UK soldiers.

Our correspondent said the government headquarters in the region was on the point of being taken over by the Taleban and that local elders had made it clear that the Taleban was in control of much of the district.

The British troops were expecting an attack, he added.

The number of UK soldiers in Afghanistan is expected to peak at 5,700 later this year - the majority of whom will be in Helmand.

They are heading a Nato mission charged with reconstructing the region following years of Taleban rule and a US-led invasion.

Information from the MoD shows that 10 British servicemen have died in Afghanistan since November 2001.


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See the scenes of fighting in Helmand province





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