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Asia-pacific

Two Danish soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Latest update : 2008-12-05

Two Danish soldiers belonging to NATO forces in Afghanistan were killed when they came under attack during a patrol in the southern part of the country, bringing to 18 the Danish death toll since troops were deployed in 2001.

AFP - Two Danish soldiers serving with NATO's force in Afghanistan were killed Thursday in the southern part of the country, the Danish military said in a statement.

The soldiers were killed when clashes erupted with enemy forces while they were on patrol about eight kilometers (five miles) south of the town of Gereshk in Helmand province, the statement said.

The foot patrol came under attack around 9:00 am (0430 GMT) when a mine exploded and then gunfire erupted. The blast killed a Danish soldier, while a later explosion killed a second Dane who had arrived to help carry away his compatriot.

On Wednesday, Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Defence Minister Soeren Gade toured the Gereshk district following a visit to Danish troops in Helmand.

The deaths bring to 18 the number of Danish troops killed in the country since Copenhagen deployed soldiers there as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in 2001 -- one of the highest per-capita death tolls among coalition forces.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was "deeply saddened" by the deaths and expressed his "deepest sympathies" to their loved ones.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who arrived in the Danish capital late Thursday for a lightning farewell visit, also presented her condolences to the families of the victims and to the Danish people.

"Denmark has been a terrific ally in this fight against terrorism and in support of democracy and freedom and in trying to help the Afghan people build a decent life after so many years of difficulties," she said before dining with Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller.

Denmark currently has some 700 troops in Afghanistan, most of whom are stationed in Helmand province under British command.

Helmand sees some of the worst of the Taliban insurgency and most of its districts are said to be in control of the rebels, despite the efforts of NATO troops.
 

Date created : 2008-12-05