News / Asia

13 NATO Troops Killed in Afghanistan Over Past 24 Hours

NATO says three more soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, just one day after 10 service members died in a string of attacks across the country.

The alliance says a bomb killed two of its soldiers Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, but gave no other details. Elsewhere in the region, the British defense ministry said a British soldier was killed in a gunbattle with insurgents in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province.

In Monday's violence, seven Americans, one French and two Australian soldiers were killed in separate attacks in the south and east of the country. It was the deadliest day so far this year for international forces in Afghanistan.

Taliban militants have increased their attacks as NATO prepares for a major operation to drive the group from its stronghold in southern Kandahar province.

On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his British counterpart, Liam Fox, denied media reports that British troops will be pulled out of Helmand province and sent to neighboring Kandahar.

Gates, who met with Fox in London, praised British forces for their bravery in Afghanistan, and said they are in the forefront of the fight against the Taliban insurgency.

Separately, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said the Kabul government must ensure that money set aside to reintegrate Taliban fighters who renounce violence is not stolen by corrupt officials.  Holbrooke said he wants the country's reconciliation program to be in place before an international conference on Afghanistan begins July 20 in Kabul.

The U.S. envoy says international funds for the program will be used to provide former Taliban militants with land, jobs, vocational training and literacy programs.

A former Afghan minister of women's affairs, Moussada Jalal, told Canadian lawmakers in Ottawa Tuesday that any reconciliation plan with the Taliban would only be a setback for women's rights.

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

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