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45 coalition troops died in Afghan war

The conflict's total for June -- its highest -- passes the Iraq toll the second month in a row.

July 01, 2008|From the Associated Press

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — At least 45 international troops, including at least 27 Americans, died in Afghanistan in June, the deadliest month since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban, according to an Associated Press count.

It was also the second straight month in which militants killed more U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

The Taliban in June staged a sophisticated jailbreak that freed about 900 prisoners, then briefly overran a strategic valley outside Kandahar. Last week, a Pentagon report forecast the fundamentalist Islamic militia would maintain or increase its attacks, which are already up 40% this year from 2007 in areas where U.S. troops operate along the Pakistani border.

In Iraq, at least 31 international soldiers died in June: 29 U.S. troops and one each from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. There are 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, along with 4,000 from Britain and small contingents from several other nations.

The 40-nation international coalition is much broader in Afghanistan, where only about half of the 65,000 international troops are American.

U.S. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, the top commander of U.S. forces here, said in June that militant attacks were becoming more complex -- such as gunfire from multiple angles plus a roadside bomb. Insurgents are using more explosives, he said.

Mark Laity, the top NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, said troops were taking the fight to insurgents in remote areas and putting themselves in harm's way. One or two events can disproportionately affect the monthly death toll, he said.

In June, at least 13 British troops were killed, along with at least two Canadians and one person each from Poland, Romania and Hungary.

The AP count found that about 580 people died in insurgent violence last month, including about 440 militants, 34 civilians and 44 members of the Afghan security forces. More than 2,100 people have died in violence this year, according to the AP count, which is based on figures from Afghan, U.S. and NATO officials.

On Monday, an Afghan official said U.S.-led forces backed by warplanes killed 28 militants in southwestern Afghanistan, including several Taliban commanders.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said it killed several more insurgents in coordination with Pakistani forces along the mountainous border, and three members of the U.S.-led coalition died when their vehicle rolled into a riverbed Sunday.

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