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British soldier, two dozen more killed in Afghanistan

A British soldier was among more than two dozen people killed in a surge of attacks in Afghanistan, authorities said on Friday, with violence at record levels two months ahead of presidential elections.

world Updated: Jun 12, 2009 15:03 IST

A British soldier was among more than two dozen people killed in a surge of attacks in


Afghanistan, authorities said on Friday, with violence at record levels two months ahead of presidential elections.

The new bloodshed was announced as General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, warned on Thursday of more "tough months" ahead in the battle against extremist insurgents in Afghanistan.

The British soldier, serving in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), was killed near the southern city of Kandahar, the British defence ministry said.

The death takes to 134 the number of foreign troops to lose their lives in Afghanistan this year, most of them in bomb blasts.

Southern Afghanistan sees the worst of the Taliban insurgency and the United States is moving 17,000 extra combat troops into the area with about 4,000 military trainers also due to deploy to the country.

Insurgents meanwhile attacked a police post in southern Helmand province on late Thursday, kicking off heavy fighting, the interior ministry said in a statement.

A dozen "enemies of peace" were killed, including two commanders, it said. Taliban insurgents also attacked an patrol of Italian ISAF troops and Afghan security forces in southwestern Farah province on Thursday, the provincial governor said.

Two Afghan soldiers were killed and two wounded, governor Rohul Amin Amin said. Three Italian soldiers were also hurt, he said.

The Taliban suffered an unknown number of casualties, he said.

The fighting was in Bala Buluk district, which has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks. US air strikes on Taliban fighters in the district last month killed up to 140 civilians, according to the Afghan government.

Also on Thursday, a bomb in Kandahar killed three private security guards working for a bank, police said.
Another four private security guards were killed in another bombing in southern Zabul province, an Afghan official said.
The Taliban claimed both bomb attacks.

ISAF said meanwhile that four Afghan civilians were killed in a traffic accident involving one of its vehicles in the northeastern province of Kunar on Thursday.

Two more civilians were killed in the same province on Thursday, by ISAF mortar rounds fired against insurgents, it said.

Violence has surged in recent weeks across Afghanistan with Taliban-led insurgents carrying out more attacks and troops cracking down on militant strongholds ahead of presidential elections set for August 20.

There have also been incidents in previously calm areas such as the northern province of Baghlan where a dozen Taliban and two Afghan soldiers were reported killed in fighting on Wednesday.

Petraeus said in Washington that the past week had seen the highest level of security incidents in Afghanistan since the Taliban's ouster from power in late 2001.

From January to May, insurgent attacks in Afghanistan were up by 59 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to NATO figures.

"There is no question that the situation has deteriorated over the course of the past two years and that there are difficult times ahead," said Petraeus, who heads the US Central Command.

He said the levels of violence would rise in part "because we are going to go after their sanctuaries and safe havens as we must.