Soldiers' deaths take UK toll to 292

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The deaths of two British soldiers shot in a battle with the Taliban in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, on Friday have brought the total of British dead to 292. The men, who are expected to be named today, were from 1st Battalion, the Mercian Regiment. So far this year, 47 British soldiers have been killed and 137 seriously wounded, with hundreds more hospitalised.

The latest deaths come at a time of rising tensions in Afghanistan, with a police officer killed and more than a dozen civilians injured in a bomb blast outside the provincial governor's office in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar yesterday.

And, last week, Taliban fighters mounted an unsuccessful attack on "peace jirga" talks in Kabul, held by President Karzai with tribal leaders in an attempt to find a way of persuading insurgents to lay down their arms.