Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 16:52 UK

Two more UK deaths in Afghanistan

New Ministry of Defence footage shows British soldiers in combat

Two more UK troops have died in separate attacks in Helmand province in Afghanistan, the eighth and ninth soldiers to be killed this month.

One soldier was killed in an explosion and the second died from a gunshot wound. Their next of kin have been informed, the Ministry of Defence said.

The soldiers, who died on Thursday, were from 4th Battalion The Rifles and Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.

The number of UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 is now 178.

The soldier from 4th Battalion The Rifles was killed in a blast while on foot patrol near Nad Ali on Thursday afternoon.

The soldier from Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, attached to 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was killed during an engagement with insurgent forces near Lashkar Gah on Thursday evening.

The latest deaths bring the toll in Afghanistan to just one short of the 179 personnel killed during the British operation in Iraq, which has now ended.

BRITISH FATALITIES IN AFGHANISTAN MARCH 2006 - JULY 2009
Graph of soldiers' deaths in Afghanistan
September 2006: Highest monthly toll with 19 dead including 14 killed when a RAF Nimrod crashes in Afghanistan.
June 2008: British death toll reaches 100 with the death of Pte Daniel Gamble, above. Among the 13 fatalities in June is the first British female soldier.
May 2009: Surge in casualties as Taliban use powerful Improvised Explosive Devices to attack British forces.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown responded to the news from Italy, where he is attending the G8 summit.

"This is a very hard summer, it's not over but it's vital that the international community sees through its commitment [to Afghanistan]," he said.

"There's a recognition that this is a task that the world has got to accept together.

"We must and we will do everything we can to support our forces as they put their lives on the line."

Lt Col Nick Richardson said: "These fine British soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice and their memory will live with us forever.

Gordon Brown reacts to the deaths of two more British soldiers in Afghanistan

"We mourn their loss and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this very sad time. We know that their deaths were not in vain."

British forces are engaged in a major offensive in Helmand province, in the south of the country, and have been joined by about 4,000 US and 650 Afghan troops.

The joint campaign is designed to drive the Taliban out of the region and make it safe for presidential elections due next month.

News of the two deaths came as the bodies of five soldiers killed in Afghanistan over the past week were returned to the UK.

The aircraft carrying their coffins arrived at RAF Lyneham, in Wiltshire, for a repatriation ceremony.

After the ceremony, hearses carrying the coffins passed through nearby Wootton Bassett, which was lined with hundreds of mourners.

The former UK ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, has told the BBC he does not think the operation in Afghanistan was well-enough resourced.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The government is not doing enough for our military. We need a massive surge of British troops to take more of the fight to the Taliban
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He said: "We don't have enough troops in the Army to run these sorts of operations any more, we've cut down too far."

But he said: "We want to see an Afghanistan that doesn't threaten us, therefore we do have dogs in this fight."

Earlier this week Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said more soldiers would die before the operation in Afghanistan was over.

In his first speech since being appointed defence secretary, Mr Ainsworth said the way forward in Afghanistan would be "hard and dangerous".



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