Two British soldiers among 38 killed in Afghanistan attacks

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, June 27, 2006 (AFP) – Two British soldiers were killed in a battle with Taliban rebels in southern Afghanistan Tuesday while two civilians died in a suicide blast aimed at a German patrol in the north.

The Afghan and US-led coalition forces meanwhile announced that 30 rebels and four Afghan soldiers died in a series of clashes Monday as the deadliest phase of the Taliban insurgency dragged on.

The death of the two British soldiers in Helmand province took to 10 the number of coalition soldiers to die in battle across Afghanistan in a week.

"We can confirm that UK forces have been involved in an incident in the Sangin valley, during which we regret to confirm that two members of the UK armed forces have been killed in action," said British military spokesman Captain Drew Gibson.

Another British soldier was wounded in the battle.

Sangin has seen major clashes between troops and militants in the past weeks, some of them part of a major new anti-Taliban operation called Mountain Thrust that was launched more than a month ago.

Several rebels were also believed to have been killed, Gibson said.

The suicide blast struck a German patrol with a NATO-led force operating in northern province of Kunduz. An attacker drove an explosives-filled vehicle near the convoy and then detonated it, police said.

"Two civilians were killed and eight others were wounded. The NATO troops did not sustain any casualties," local police chief Sayed Ahmad Samah told AFP.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul said the attack was outside a German-run reconstruction team in the south of the province.

The Afghan army and coalition announced meanwhile Tuesday that they had killed 30 Taliban in various attacks in insurgency-hit southern Afghanistan on Monday. Four Afghan soldiers were also killed.

One was in Uruzgan province where Afghan and foreign troops raided a suspected enemy compound on Monday and killed 10 insurgents, the coalition said.

Afghanistan has in the past weeks been gripped by some of the fiercest fighting since the Taliban were removed from government in 2001 for sheltering Al-Qaeda, responsible for the 9/11 attacks on US cities.