Page last updated at 21:49 GMT, Saturday, 1 August 2009 22:49 UK

Afghan troop amputations total 51

Military medical team
Army surgeons have faced an especially busy month in July

Some 51 members of the UK armed forces had limbs amputated by 31 March 2009 after being wounded in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has said.

But the official tally does not include recent months, which have seen heavy casualties among UK service personnel.

Col Richard Kemp, ex-commander of UK troops in Afghanistan, told the Sunday Mirror the toll was "shockingly high".

A total of 57 UK troops were wounded in the first two weeks of July, compared with 46 in all of June and 24 in May.

The Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "As of 31 March 2009, a total of 51 UK service personnel have suffered amputations due to injuries sustained while on operational deployment on Operation Herrick."

Col Kemp told the Sunday Mirror: "This is a shockingly high ratio of the number of British troops deployed at any one time in Afghanistan."

Of the injuries in the first 15 days of July, 16 service personnel were seriously or very seriously wounded.

July has also seen the most deaths - some 22 - since operations began.

In total, the number of UK troops killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 stands at 191.

The rise in injuries and deaths came as coalition forces completed the first phase of their heaviest offensive yet - Operation Panther's Claw - against the Taliban ahead of elections on 20 August.

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