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Australian Soldier Killed in Afghanistan


An Australian soldier has been killed in fighting with Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan.

Australian officials say the 26-year-old member of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed Friday while part of an operation targeting Taliban bomb-makers in southern Uruzgan province.

The soldier was the third Australian killed in Afghanistan in recent months.

Military involvement in Afghanistan is an issue in Australia's national elections being held Saturday.

In separate violence Friday, police say Taliban militants killed at least seven Afghan police officers in the southern province of Kandahar. The officers were killed after militants overran a police checkpoint in the Arghandab area.

And U.S.-led coalition troops say several suspected insurgents were killed and a coalition soldier wounded during clashes Thursday in the Ghazni province.

Also Friday, Dutch government parties agreed to continue the Dutch military mission in southern Afghanistan. The Netherlands has more than 1,500 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. Many serve in the southern Uruzgan province.

And Poland's new prime minister, Donald Tusk, said Friday Poland will keep its current troop level in Afghanistan. The Polish leader wants to withdraw troops from Iraq.

In 2001, a U.S.-led invasion toppled the strict Islamic Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Over the past year or so, a reconstituted rebel movement has increased suicide attacks against NATO, the U.S. military and Afghan forces.

More than 6,000 have died in insurgency-related violence this year in Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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