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German soldiers killed in Afghanistan clashes

2 April 10 15:59 GMT

Three German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, officials say.

They died during fierce fighting with Taliban insurgents in the north of the country, the German military said.

A number of other German soldiers were seriously wounded in the incident, which happened near Chahar Dara, south-west of the city of Kunduz.

Germany has more than 4,000 soldiers in the country - making it the third-largest foreign contingent after the US and UK.

Friday's clash happened when the Taliban attacked a German patrol, according to officials.

One local official was quoted as saying that a mine had exploded under the patrol, while another said the Germans had been clearing roadside bombs.

Local government chief Abdul Wahid Omar Khil said he estimated that about 200 Taliban fighters were involved.

He said they had been firing on the Germans from civilian homes, the Associated Press reported.

German participation in the international coalition in Afghanistan has been deeply unpopular with the German public.

The German parliament voted in February to increase Germany's contingent by up to 850 troops to a total of 5,350, with deployment expected to start in July.

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