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Published: Saturday, 8/1/2009

1 French, 3 American troops killed in Afghanistan

ASSOCIATED PRESS

KABUL Three U.S. troops were killed Saturday when roadside bombs ripped through their patrol in southern Afghanistan, while a French soldier died in a gunbattle north of the capital, officials said.

The Americans were killed in the southern Kandahar province, said Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo. He gave no further details on the blasts, pending notification of the victims' families.

Roadside bombs have become the militants' weapon of choice in Afghanistan, and the number of such attacks has spiked this year, as thousands of additional American forces have joined the fight. President Barack Obama has ordered 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and expects the total number of U.S. forces here to reach 68,000 by year's end.

That's double the number of U.S. troops that were in Afghanistan in 2008 but still half as many as are now in Iraq.

Deaths among U.S. and other NATO troops have also soared this year. With 74 foreign troops killed including 43 Americans July was the deadliest month for international forces since the start of the war in 2001.

Separately a French soldier was killed and two others were wounded during a clash with insurgents north of Kabul, the French military said in a statement.

The military said the slain corporal was part of a 230-strong joint Afghan and French force that came under attack from the Taliban in a valley north of Kabul early Saturday. It did not say how many insurgents launched the attack, but said it led to a clash that lasted more than one hour and two French soldiers were wounded. There were no reports of Taliban casualties.

France has lost 29 soldiers in Afghanistan since 2001, and has 2,900 troops in the country.

In Paris, a statement from President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said he condemned the soldier's killing and "reiterated France's determination to fight, alongside the Afghan people, against obscurantism and terrorism."

There are currently 62,000 U.S. troops and 39,000 allied forced in Afghanistan, on top of about 175,000 Afghan soldiers and police. Some NATO countries plan to withdraw their troops in the next couple of years, even as the U.S. ramps up its presence.



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