Record NATO deaths in early Afghan fighting season

The death toll for international forces in April and May was 110.

Kabul: More foreign troops in Afghanistan were killed in April and May this year, the early stages of the fighting season, than in the same months of any year of the decade-long conflict, figures showed.

The death toll for international forces in April and May was 110 -- 51 in April and 59 in May -- according to figures from the independent website.

The overall figure was up from 85 in the same period last year and represents the highest death toll for April and May since the start of the war in late 2001.

April and May represent the early stages of the Taliban-led insurgency`s spring offensive in Afghanistan.

Since they announced the start of the offensive in late April this year, the Taliban and other rebels have launched a string of high-profile attacks including Saturday`s killing of the police commander for northern Afghanistan and two German troops.

The number of casualties in fighting usually peaks from June to September. A total of 711 troops from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed last year.

An ISAF spokesman could not immediately comment on the figures.

But the US commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan, David Petraeus, said earlier this month that the war was now reaching a "pivotal moment".

He added: "Given the progress that Afghan and ISAF troopers have made since last summer, especially in clearing and holding areas, it is likely that our enemies will pursue high-profile attacks this summer in an attempt to demonstrate continued capability."

The figures emerged weeks before the planned start of the handover of responsibility for security from foreign to Afghan forces in seven safer areas of Afghanistan from July.

Afghan forces are due to take the lead for security across the country by 2014, allowing for the withdrawal of all foreign combat troops.

Bureau Report

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