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Afghan blasts kill three more troops

KABUL — Bombs killed two U.S. troops and one Briton in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, as the death toll mounts in the bloodiest month of the war.

The NATO-led force released no other details about the three deaths, including the troops' military branch or where the attack occurred. Tech Sgt. Chuck Marsh confirmed that two troops were American.

The British Ministry of Defense announced later that a soldier from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards had been killed in a separate blast. The soldier was the 19th member of Britain's 9,000-strong force to be killed in Afghanistan this month.

Those deaths have triggered a national debate in Britain over the war.

Southern Helmand province is the site of the largest U.S. Marine operation since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban regime. Some 4,000 Marines are taking part. They have met little resistance from Taliban fighters but have had to contend with dozens of bombs hidden in the region's dirt roads.

July has been the deadliest month for U.S. and NATO forces. Wednesday's deaths raised the American toll to 34, surpassing the 28 killed in two months last summer.

The U.S. has close to 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, a record number. President Barack Obama has increased the U.S. focus on Afghanistan as American forces draw out of Iraq.

Karzai won't debate

President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday that he will not take part in Afghanistan's first major televised presidential debate, leaving his top two challengers to talk among themselves. A debate was scheduled for today between Karzai, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. Ghani, a former top World Bank official, has repeatedly needled Karzai to debate him. The president's campaign said he wouldn't take part because more of the country's 41 candidates weren't invited, adding that it had received an official invitation only one day before the debate. Elections will be Aug. 20.

Afghan blasts kill three more troops 07/22/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 9:23pm]
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