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British Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

25 June, 2007

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LONDON, June 25 (Online): An explosion has killed British soldier and injured four others in Afghanistan's restive southern Helmand province.

Soon after the explosion, British troops shot dead one man and wounded another, claiming they had ignored repeated calls to stop at a security cordon near the blast site.

The soldiers' armored Land Rover was escorting a team near the provincial capital of Lashkar Gar when the explosion occurred.

The latest fatality brings to 61 the number of British soldiers killed in the violence-scarred country since the US-led invasion of the country began in November 2001.

All five soldiers caught in the blast were airlifted to hospital, where one was pronounced dead, a spokeswoman for defense ministry said, adding that their families had been informed of the incident.

When asked if the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device, the spokeswoman said the matter was under investigation.

Britain has about 5,200 troops in Afghanistan, most of whom are based in Helmand.

President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that foreign forces killed 52 civilians in a three-day operation in southern Afghanistan last week.

He told reporters that just over a week, a total of 90 civilians had been killed.

The Afghan president angrily condemned "indiscriminate and unprecise" operations by NATO- and US-led forces in Afghanistan.

"Attacks causing civilian casualties, as I have said before, is not acceptable for us. It is no longer tolerated," Karzai said.

Karzai said that he had repeatedly asked the foreign forces "to avoid unnecessary and unuseful operations".

"But unfortunately, despite our efforts, this has not been applied and our people have been killed and wounded," he said, flanked by his Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak.

Such incidents would cause the international mission to bring security to Afghanistan to fail, he warned.

The Afghan president suggested world powers considered Afghan lives to be "cheap''.

More than 230 civilians, including woman and children, have been killed this year alone during operations by foreign forces, according to an umbrella body for aid groups in Afghanistan.

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