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Six dead in Afghanistan in a grim day for coalition

Six Western troops were killed in Afghanistan yesterday in the worst day for the coalition in more than two months.

Three Americans, a French soldier and two more who have not been identified died in separate incidents, underscoring warnings that casualties will increase as the fight against the Taliban steps up.

The Americans died in a battle with militants during an “operational patrol” in southern Afghanistan.

That raised to at least 10 the number of US service members killed in Afghanistan so far this year.

A French officer was killed during a joint patrol with Afghan troops in Alasay, a valley largely under insurgent control that Nato is trying to reclaim.

Another French service member was seriously wounded in the attack, which happened 50 miles north-east of the capital, Kabul.

Another service member was killed in the clash but their nationality was released.

Nato said that a sixth was killed by a roadside bomb in the south.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country has lost 37 troops in Afghanistan since 2001, condemned what he called “blind violence” and expressed his determination to keep forces in the country.

The previous deadliest day was October 27, when eight US troops were killed.

Seven CIA agents and a Jordanian intelligence officer were also killed by a suicide bomber on December 30.

The southern half of the country, the Taliban heartland, has frequently been hit by attacks as the military builds up its presence in the area.

However, the top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, said that he believes the troop surge in Afghanistan is now turning the tide against the Taliban.

Belfast Telegraph