September 9, 2007 / 6:12 AM / 13 years ago

Two UK troops killed in Afghanistan: military

KABUL (Reuters) - Two British soldiers and more than 30 Taliban guerrillas were killed in separate incidents in southern Afghanistan, the British and U.S. military said, the latest clashes in a raging insurgency.

Dust billows as a British Chinook helicopter takes off in Sangin valley in the southern province of Helmand June 10, 2007. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

In another incident in the same restive southern province of Helmand on Saturday, an Afghan employee of a U.S. security firm was killed and three others were wounded in a suicide bomb attack, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday.

The British soldiers were killed while taking part in a pre-dawn operation on Saturday to disrupt the Taliban in Helmand when their patrol came under attack, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.

Two other British troops were seriously wounded and several insurgents were killed, it added.

Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces backed by air strikes meanwhile killed more than 30 Taliban fighters in a separate clash in Helmand on Saturday, and destroyed a large cache of weaponry, the U.S. military said.

“Afghan and Coalition forces found large weapons caches in three buildings and smaller caches in other buildings. The caches included rockets, anti-tank rockets, and an improvised explosive device, all of which were destroyed by a coalition airstrike,” it said in a statement.

“During the course of operations, the combined force also returned small-arms fire and employed precision munitions on locations where suspected militants were hiding. Forces estimate more than 30 suspected militants were killed in the engagement.”

There were no independent accounts of how many people were killed or what happened.

The Taliban were not immediately available for comment.

The U.S.-led military says coalition forces have killed hundreds of Taliban militants in a spree of confrontations in recent weeks. The Taliban have admitted some losses, but say Afghan and foreign troops vastly exaggerate enemy death tolls.

More than 7,000 people have been killed during the past 19 months in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the resurgent Taliban’s overthrow in 2001.

Additional reporting by Sayed Salahuddin in Kabul and Paul Majendie in London

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