Kabul: Three British paratroopers were killed
in a Taliban attack on their patrol in southern Afghanistan,
officials said on Friday, raising the number of international
troops slain in the first week of August to 18.
NATO and the British government said the soldiers`
armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb north of Lashkar
Gah in Helmand Province on Thursday before insurgents opened
fire. The soldiers fired back, but the three were killed.
Attacks killed at least 75 troops from the U.S. and other
international military forces in July, the highest death toll
for a single month since 2001, according to military reports.
Thousands of additional US Marines have been deployed to
southern Afghanistan -- the Taliban`s heartland -- in an
attempt to reverse the militants` gains and enable for the
August 20 elections to take place.
President Hamid Karzai, the leading candidate, held his
first major campaign rally in the capital today, drawing
thousands of cheering supporters, many members of the Shiite
Muslim Hazara minority.
Hazaras, believed to make up more than 10 percent of the
population, voted for Karzai in the country`s last election.
He has courted them by appointing Hazara officials to
important ministries and other government posts.
Karzai was flanked at the heavily guarded rally by his
two vice-presidential candidates; Mohammad Qasim Fahim, an
ethnic Tajik strongman who was a commander of the Northern
Alliance that helped oust the Taliban in 2001, and Hazara
leader Karim Khalili, currently the second vice president.