Three British soldiers killed in Iraq and Kabul

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The Independent Online

Two British soldiers were killed and a third was seriously wounded today north of Basra, the British military said. And another British soldier was killed in the Afghanistan capital.

The soldiers in Iraq were killed when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb, said British military spokesman Maj. Charlie Burbridge.

Their identities were withheld pending notification of their families.

In Afghanistan, a car bomb targeting a British military convoy killed four Afghan civilians and one British soldier in the Afghan capital, Nato and Afghan officials said. Ten people were wounded.

The explosion happened on the Kabul-Jalalabad road at 10.15am local time, Nato officials said.

Afghan officials said it was a suicide bombing and the attacker also died.

But Nato spokesman Maj. Toby Jackman said it was unclear if the attack was a suicide bombing or caused by a bomb that was being transported in a car exploding prematurely.

The Ministry of Defence said a four-wheel-drive vehicle was driven at the British convoy. It said one soldier had died and another was seriously wounded and evacuated to a military medical facility for treatment.

Maj. Luke Knittig, another Nato spokesman, said the soldier who died was initially reported wounded, but later succumbed to his injuries. He said in all, three Nato troops were wounded. Two sustained light injuries.

British soldiers blocked the road leading to the site of the bombing on the road - the main highway running east out of Kabul.

Ali Shah Paktiawal, the criminal director of Kabul police, said it was a suicide attack and had killed four Afghan civilians and wounded seven. He said the bomber was driving a four-wheel-drive car and had also died.

Paktiawal said among the civilians killed were two Afghan youths who were riding past on a motorbike at the time of the blast.

Taliban-led militants have stepped up attacks in Afghanistan this year. The relatively secure capital has escaped most of the violence, but has been rattled by periodic bombings and rocket attacks.

* Nato warplanes killed one Nato soldier and wounded several others in a " friendly fire" incident in southern Afghanistan today, Nato said in a statement.

The strafing occurred during a Nato-led anti-Taliban operation in Kandahar province's Panjwayi district after ground troops requested air support, Nato said.

"Two ISAF (Nato's International Security Assistance Force) aircraft provided the support but regrettably engaged friendly forces during a strafing run, using cannons," the statement said.

There were "multiple casualties" caused in the air raid, including one Nato soldier who was killed, Nato said. The nationalities of the troops were not immediately clear.

"I wish to send my deepest sympathies to all of the soldiers and their loved ones who've been affected by this very sad accident," said Nato commander Lt. Gen. David Richards. "It is particularly distressing to us all when, despite the care and precautions that are always applied, a tragedy like this happens."

An investigation into the incident has been launched.

The raid occurred during a Nato-led campaign called "Operation Medusa," which Nato said had killed more than 200 Taliban fighters and four Canadian soldiers since the mission started on Saturday.

Panjwayi has long been a hotbed of Taliban resistance against US-led forces and after Nato took military control of southern Afghanistan in August.