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Deadliest Month for International Troops in Afghanistan


June has become the deadliest month for international troops in Afghanistan since the conflict began.

News agencies who track U.S. and NATO casualty announcements say at least 79 troops have died this month.

NATO said Thursday that four troops died in southern Afghanistan late Wednesday. Britain said the soldiers died when their vehicle crashed near Gereshk in Helmand province.

On Wednesday, NATO announced the deaths of four troops in bomb explosions in southern, eastern and western Afghanistan.

Australia's defense minister said Wednesday his country could begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in two years.

John Faulkner said Australian troops could see their mission to train Afghan forces change to what he called an "overwatch role," allowing Afghans to take control of security.

Australia has about 1,500 troops in Afghanistan, most of them in Uruzgan province. Sixteen Australian troops have died since the country joined the U.S.-led mission to defeat the Taliban in 2001.

Militants have been increasing attacks ahead of a planned military effort by NATO to clear southern Kandahar city and surrounding areas of Taliban insurgents.

In eastern Nangarhar province, police say a roadside bombing targeted a parliamentary candidate on Wednesday and killed one person and wounded the candidate.

In another roadside bombing, Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said seven security guards working for a private construction firm were killed when their vehicle hit a bomb in Uruzgan province Wednesday.

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

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