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Brown addresses troops on surprise Afghan trip

Latest update : 2008-12-13

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where he spoke to troops serving in the country following the deaths of four British soldiers on Friday. Brown later met for talks with President Hamid Karzai.

AFP - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise trip to Afghanistan Saturday, visiting troops battling Taliban militants in the south before heading to Kabul, an AFP correspondent travelling with him said.

   
Brown started his visit to Afghanistan in Camp Bastion, the huge military base in southern Helmand province, where he spoke out against two attacks which killed four British marines Friday.
   
"It is a terrible commentary on the Taliban that they should use a 13-year-old child as a suicide bomber," he said, referring to one attack which killed three and involved a teenager with a bomb hidden in a wheelbarrow.
   
"There is disgust and horror at these tactics being used by the Taliban," he added later.
   
He told soldiers they were on the front line of a "chain of terror" which ran from the mountainous Afghan-Pakistan border region and could end up on the streets of Britain.
   
Brown later took a helicopter to the Roshan observation post near Musa Qala, near where the troops died and a stone's throw from where fighting with Taliban has been taking place.
   
Officials said the trip took him right up to the front line, with one claiming he got closer to fighting than any British premier since World War II leader Winston Churchill.
   
He later travelled to Kabul for talks with President Hamid Karzai.
   
Separately, government and military sources speaking on condition of anonymity said around 300 new British troops have been deployed from Cyprus as part of a ramping-up ahead of the Afghan presidential elections next year.
   
One goverment source said Britain was set to confirm Monday that the troop reinforcements had been carried out in the last few weeks.
   
A military source added they would be trying to secure prime agricultural and opium poppy growing land in Helmand alongside troops from other nations including Denmark and Estonia.
   
Britain has around 8,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
   
A total of 132 British personnel have died in Afghanistan since the start of operations in late 2001, including those killed in the latest attacks.

Date created : 2008-12-13

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