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Two NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan

world Updated: Feb 10, 2009 13:41 IST

A bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday killed two soldiers from the NATO-led force helping to fight an escalating Taliban-led insurgency, a military spokeswoman said.

The blast, similar to scores of others orchestrated by the Taliban against security forces, was on the outskirts of the eastern town of Khost on a road leading to the main US base in eastern Afghanistan, an AFP reporter said.

"Two alliance soldiers were killed by an IED (improvised explosive device) and one wounded," Lieutenant Colonel Rumi Neilson-Green, a spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), told AFP.

She could not disclose the nationalities of those killed in the blast but most soldiers in eastern Afghanistan are US nationals.

Neilson-Green said it was not immediately clear what kind of device caused the explosion. Khost has seen a rash of suicide attacks over the past few months, most claimed by the Taliban.

Afghan police confirmed the blast and also said the cause was not immediately clear.

"It was against a coalition convoy," provincial police chief Abdul Qayoum Baqizoi told AFP.

The deaths take to 28 the number of international soldiers to lose their lives this year, most of them in attacks, according to the website that tracks casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There are nearly 70,000 international troops in Afghanistan with NATO's ISAF and a separate US-led coalition.

Around 37,000 of them are US nationals, according to the Pentagon.

The coalition ousted the Taliban from government in 2001 when the Islamic hardliners did not surrender Al-Qaeda leaders after the September 11 attacks that killed around 3,000 people in Washington and New York.

But the insurgents have regrouped to wage an Al-Qaeda-linked insurgency that has escalated in the past three years.

The administration of US President Barack Obama is looking for a new approach in the war-wracked country and is expected to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan over the next year to 18 months.

Obama vowed Monday not to let Al-Qaeda act "with impunity" in Afghanistan, calling for a combined effort to eradicate extremist safe havens and expressing concern that Kabul has not yet shown enough concerted effort to oust militants.