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Britain Pledges Increased Aid for Afghan Army, Development


Britain's prime minister has pledged to pump more resources into training and mentoring programs to strengthen Afghanistan's security forces.

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul Thursday, Gordon Brown also promised to give $120 million in development aid to Afghanistan.

Earlier Thursday, Mr. Brown met with British soldiers in southern Helmand province. The prime minister says the Afghan army needs to more than double in size in order to effectively secure the country.

His visit took place amid a growing wave of attacks carried out by Islamic insurgents.

Three Polish soldiers with the U.S.-led NATO coalition force were killed Wednesday in a roadside bomb blast in Ghazni, in eastern Afghanistan.

In Paris Thursday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke at the military funeral of 10 French soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan earlier this week. Mr. Sarkozy said all of France is in mourning for the men, killed in a battle with suspected Taliban forces east of Kabul. It was the worst death toll for foreign soldiers since the Taliban was overthrown in 2001.

Separately Thursday, the U.S. military says it killed more than 30 insurgents during airstrikes in the eastern province of Laghman.

And officials in Canada said three Canadian soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Most of Britain's 8,500 troops are based in Helmand, a hotbed of Taliban activity. At least 116 British troops have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

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