Five Nato troops die in Afghanistan


Five troops serving with the Nato-led force in Afghanistan were killed today, including three in a clash with insurgents in the east.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) gave no other details about the clash in the east, including the nationalities of those killed. The majority of troops serving in the volatile east are from the US.

Earlier, the ISAF said two of its soldiers had been killed in separate explosions in the south.

The five casualties today were the worst suffered by ISAF since October 14th, when eight of its troops were killed in five separate incidents.

At least 642 ISAF troops, about 440 of them American, have been killed in Afghanistan in 2010, by far the deadliest year of the war. Three were killed yesterday, the ninth anniversary of the fall of the Taliban in Kabul.

The spike in violence is largely a result of increased Nato operations against the Taliban-led insurgency.

The deaths send a sobering message to Nato leaders holding a summit later this week in Lisbon with Afghanistan top of the agenda. Many European Nato leaders are under increasing pressure to justify their continued support for the drawn-out war.

President Barack Obama is set to review his Afghanistan war strategy in December amid sagging US public support, after his Democratic party suffered a mauling in mid-term elections.

Violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since US-backed Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban nine years ago, with civilian and military casualties at record levels despite the presence of about 150,000 foreign troops.

The Washington Post newspaper reported today that Afghan president Hamid Karzai wants the U.S. military to reduce its visibility and the intensity of its operations in Afghanistan and end the use of night raids. Such raids incite Afghans to join the insurgency, he said.

"The time has come to reduce military operations," Mr Karzai told the Post in an interview. "The time has come to reduce the presence of, you know, boots in Afghanistan ... to reduce the intrusiveness into the daily Afghan life."

Mr Obama plans to begin withdrawing some US troops from July 2011, and Mr Karzai has set 2014 as the target for Afghanistan to take over complete security responsibility from foreign forces. About 100,000 of the foreign troops in Afghanistan are American.