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Deaths take British Afghan toll to 201

Two more British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, taking the number of UK personnel killed since operations began in 2001 to 201.

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One, from the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh, died in hospital from wounds suffered in a blast on Thursday.

The second, from 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, died after an explosion on Saturday while on foot patrol in Sangin, Helmand province.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the death as "deeply tragic news".

"Today is a day of mourning, and also a day of reflection. I want to thank the entire armed forces and the families and communities which sustain them," he said.

"We owe it to you all never to forget those who have died. But my commitment is clear: we must and will make Britain safer by making Afghanistan more stable.

"We will honour and support those who have been killed or wounded in the field of battle. And we will give those who fight on all the support that they need to succeed in this vital mission."

'Not in vain'

The Royal Welsh soldier had been on vehicle patrol near Musa Qala in Helmand province on Thursday morning.

Lt Col Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: "The death of any comrade brings much sadness to the Task Force but we take consolation from the fact that these deaths are not in vain.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends so affected by this tragic event".

A total of 10 UK personnel have died this month as troops attempt to shore up security ahead of August elections.

The latest deaths follow those of three soldiers killed by roadside bombs while on foot patrol in Helmand on Thursday.

Two had been attempting to help a comrade who had been wounded by an earlier blast.

Rifleman Daniel Wild, 19, from County Durham, and Captain Mark Hale, both serving with the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, were carrying Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton, 23, of 40 Regiment Royal Artillery, from North Yorkshire, when they were hit by a second explosion.

'Progress made'

Defence secretary Bob Ainsworth said news of the latest deaths made it a "grim day" and said Britain mourned every loss of life in the conflict.

But he insisted UK troops had been making "good progress" in their mission.

He accepted the recent offensive against the Taliban - Operation Panther's Claw - was a "tough fight", but said it had brought nearly 80,000 Afghans out from under the "tyranny of the Taliban".

Mr Ainsworth also said he believed the second Afghan presidential elections, to be held later this week, would offer more Afghans "a stake in their own emerging democracy" and provide greater security for the UK.

"It is only by supporting the Afghan government and its security forces to bring stability can we ensure that we prevent Afghanistan becoming the haven for terrorists it once was, protecting Britain from attack and promoting peace across the region.

"We must not fail in this task, and we will not."

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said passing the 200th death mark served as a "stark reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of British troops in Helmand".

Added: Aug-16-2009 
By: ursad
Afghanistan, Middle East
Tags: British, uk, Britain, killed, deaths, 200, Afgan, Afghan, troll, soliers,
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