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Tough June for NATO in Afghanistan as 19 soldiers killed in 9 days

English.news.cn   2011-06-09 22:48:54 FeedbackPrintRSS

By Farid Behbud, Zhang Jianhua

KABUL, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The month of June seems to be tough for the NATO-led troops in the insurgency-hit Afghanistan as 19 soldiers with the military alliance have been killed since the beginning of this month.

The latest casualty reported by the NATO was losing of a soldier on Thursday in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion in the restive southern region, the stronghold of the Taliban militants.

"An International Security Assistance Force service member died following an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in southern Afghanistan today," said a statement issued by NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) here in Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday.

However, the brief statement did not reveal the nationality of the victim, saying it is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.

Troops mainly from U.S., Britain, Canada and Australia have been stationed in the southern region within the framework of ISAF to fight Taliban militants there.

Also on Thursday, another press release issued here by U.S. military confirmed losing of a U.S. soldier in western Afghanistan on Tuesday.

"One United States Forces-Afghanistan service member was killed on June 7 in western Afghanistan during an operation," said the press release issued here Thursday.

Separately, two ISAF soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday.

"Two International Security Assistance Force service members died following a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan today," said a statement issued by ISAF on Sunday.

The statement ruled out insurgents' involvement in the incident, saying that "the cause of the crash is under investigation, however initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash."

However, Taliban insurgents shortly after the incident claimed of responsibility for the incident Sunday.

The Taliban purported spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in talks with the local media from undisclosed location via cell phone said that the outfit fighters shot down a military helicopter in Sabari district of eastern Khost province and killed all soldiers aboard.

However, the largest fatalities inflicted on NATO troops since the beginning of June was losing of four service members in an IED blast in restive eastern Afghan provinces.

The simple but lethal homemade Taliban weapon, the Improvised Explosive Device (IED), used in making suicide vests and roadside bombs has proved challenging for Afghan and NATO-led forces in the insurgency-hit country.

Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group announced on April 30 to start spring offensive against Afghan and NATO-led international forces.

NATO and Afghan military officials recently said they expect " impressive attacks" in coming weeks and months after the insurgents have suffered a setback by losing several key areas in their southern heartland including Kandahar and Helmand provinces over the past couples of months.

Meanwhile, the month June 2010 has been regarded as the deadliest month since beginning of war against Taliban in late 2001.

The casualties of NATO-led forces were 103 in June 2010, according to iCasualties.org, an independent website tracking the casualties of the U.S. and NATO-led forces in the war-battered Afghanistan.

A total of 711 NATO and U.S. soldiers were killed in whole 2010 in Afghanistan.

Meantime, so far this year till Tuhursday a total of 236 NATO soldiers, with some 168 of them Americans, have been killed in war- torn country.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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