Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Afghanistan - 4 British soldiers killed

Four British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan after a roadside bomb hit their convoy. One other soldier was injured in the explosion and is believed to be in a stable condition. It brings the total number of British dead in the Afghan war to 106. Earlier this week British Prime Minister Gordon Brown praised the troops serving in Afghanistan. He also spoke of increasing the numbers of troops in the country to fight in the continuing battle against the Taleban. The Prime Minister also commended those who had died recently in the country talking of their "bravery, dedication and professionalism". After the latest deaths, Gordon Brown released a statement saying "I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the four brave British soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan and will be deeply mourned. They were in the most dangerous of jobs in the most difficult of circumstances. I salute, not just their bravery, dedication and professionalism, but that of all our armed forces. Our troops are the best in the world and fighting for the noblest of causes."

Defence Secretary Des Brown also released a statement after the latest losses. "We've had a very difficult time over the last 10 days. We've lost nine soldiers altogether in three separate incidents" he said. But he insisted the Taleban were being defeated. "The Taleban are losing in Afghanistan, I know it may not appear like that at the moment, but we are enjoying a degree of success" he said. Amongst those killed on Tuesday afternoon was the first woman to die in the war which has been raging for nearly 7 years [BBC / Sky News / CNN].

Iraq has also seen a recent upsurge in violence. Yesterday a car bombing killed at least 51 and injured 75 in the north west of the capital Baghdad [CNN]. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed it on "the defeated remnants of terrorism" and called it an attempt to revive the sectarian warfare that wracked the country for more than a year. The US military blamed the blast on rogue Shia Muslim militia. US spokesman Lt Col Steve Stover said the attack was carried out by a "special group" led by Haydar Mehdi Khadum al-Fawadi.

Despite Prime Minister Maliki downplaying the bombing, attacks continue throughout the country almost daily. However, incidents are rarely reported unless they are of particular significance. On Tuesday there were several other attacks but none were reported on television news reports. In Mosul gunmen killed Iraqi journalist Muhieddin Abdul Hamid, an anchor for state TV's Nineveh channel. He was shot in a drive-by shooting outside his house. And in Baquba at least 18 people were wounded when a car bomb detonated near a police checkpoint. But there were also unreported successes. Four "suspected terrorists" were killed in an American-led coalition raid aimed at breaking up an al Qaeda in Iraq bombing network. Coalition troops approached a building in Mosul and ordered people there to surrender. The four militants were killed when they refused, according to the US military.
The numbers killed across the country also showed signs of optimism. Some 500 Iraqis were killed in May, compared with more than 1,000 in April. Coalition losses also dropped with only 19 US soldiers killed in May, the lowest monthly figure since the conflict began [BBC]. Nonetheless the casualty figures for the five year war still make grim reading. The US have lost 4,101 while the British have lost 176 in the conflict. Other coalition members have collectively lost 137 in the country[]. In Afghanistan the figures are not so high but are still sobering. While the US has lost the most number of troops, now standing at 521, the British have also paid a high price as have some other coalition countries. As British losses exceed one hundred, Canada is also mourning the death of 85 of its troops [].

No comments: