Nine NATO soldiers killed in Afghan chopper crash

Nine NATO soldiers were killed in militant attacks and a helicopter crash in Afghanistan today, the second deadliest day this year.

Updated: Jun 22, 2010, 10:25 AM IST

Kabul: Nine NATO soldiers were killed in
militant attacks and a helicopter crash in Afghanistan today,
the second deadliest day this year as US-led troops build an
ambitious campaign against the Taliban.

Three Australian commandos and a US soldier were killed
when their helicopter crashed in southern Kandahar province --
the single worst loss of life for the Australian military in
the nearly nine-year Afghan war.

Another two NATO soldiers, an American and a Canadian,
died in separate bomb explosions elsewhere in the south, the
powerbase of the Taliban militia that is fighting an
increasingly deadly insurgency against Western troops.

Three more American soldiers were killed in other
militant attacks, a spokesman for the NATO-led International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) told.

One US soldier died following a small-arms attack in the
south and the two others died after a roadside bomb attack in
the east.

On top of the deadly day, London announced that 300
British troops had now died in Afghanistan after a soldier
died from wounds suffered in an explosion earlier this month
in the southern province of Helmand.

The incidents brought to 64 the number of NATO soldiers
killed in the Afghan conflict this month, and to 284 the
number so far this year.

The deadliest month for the Western coalition was August
last year, when 77 foreign soldiers were killed. Last year,
520 NATO troops died -- their deadliest annual total yet.

Much of southern Afghanistan is blighted by the Taliban
insurgency, now in its deadliest phase since the 2001 US-led
invasion ousted the hardline Islamist regime and installed a
Western-backed administration.

The US military has warned that casualties will
inevitably mount as foreign forces build up their campaign to
oust the militants from Kandahar, the Taliban heartland and a
hotbed of bombings, assassinations and lawlessness.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen today called
for a "strategic partnership" with the European Union which he
said "would help to deliver the unity of effort that is
required for success in Afghanistan."

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who
visited Afghanistan earlier this month, said British troops
would leave "as soon as they (Afghans) are able to take care
and take security for their own country".

"Another family with such grief and pain and loss. Of
course the 300th death is no more or less tragic than the 299
that came before," he said.