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Names of the dead read out at Cenotaph protest

The names of 200 British soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 were read out today in protest against the war.

At the Naming of the Dead ceremony at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, central London, campaigners paused to remember those who have lost their lives.

Along with the 200 British names were the names of another 200 Afghan citizens killed during the war.

Tony Benn, president of the Stop the War Coalition, said: "We are here to remember the men and women who died in Afghanistan, out of respect for their loss and the loss to their families.

"But we are also looking forward to how this can be ended.

"All wars have to end by talking to somebody. We will have to talk to the Taliban because this is an unwinnable war."

And he called for British troops to be withdrawn, following the announcement of the latest casualties.

"It's time we looked for a way out of this crisis," he said.

"Too many men have lost their lives already and more will die.

"Going to war was a political decision. It wasn't made by the soldiers, it was made by the Government and it is time we pulled out."

One protester said today's ceremony was a chance to remember the individual faces of those killed in action.

Carole Vincent, 55, from east London, a former Big Brother contestant, said: "They are not numbers and that's why we are here, to name them all.

"Each one is somebody's husband or brother or son, they are not just statistics and that's what we must remember - the impact of these people dying will live on with their families for ever."

Vincent, a veteran Greenham Common campaigner, walked free from court earlier today after a case against her was dropped.

She had been charged with the theft of a policeman's baton at an anti-war demonstration in June last year.

The number of servicemen killed in Afghanistan stands at 204 after eight soldiers were killed in a four-day period.

While some protesters left flowers and cards at the Cenotaph, others held placards showing the faces of those killed in the conflict.

Tansy Hoskins, of Stop the War Coalition, said: "We crossed the 200 threshold and people across the country will be reflecting on why we are there. We're not winning.

"Afghanistan wants us to leave and it is my belief that most of the British soldiers want to leave too."

The 27-year-old, who read out some of the Afghan names, said it was important to recognise the loss of life incurred on both sides.

"Only a few hundred Afghan names have been reported," she said. "So many more have been killed. It's making their lives worse, not better."

Another campaigner, Ghada Razuki, 47, from central London, added: "We will never know in this country exactly how many Afghans have died since 2001 - the names we read out today probably amount to a percentage of the true figure.

"At the moment it is coffin after coffin after coffin - we have got to come out."