Three NATO troops killed in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

Three NATO troops — two from Estonia and one from the United States — were killed in attacks in southern Afghanistan, the latest casualties in a particularly bloody summer, authorities said today.

The American service member died in an insurgent attack Sunday, the US military said without providing details.

It was the 37th death for the US military in Afghanistan since the beginning of August, a month that has seen a jump in attacks and violence as the country prepared for its second-ever direct presidential election last week.

In a separate statement, NATO said two other international troops were killed in a bomb blast in the south yesterday.

NATO did not provide their nationalities, but Estonia's Defense Ministry said Monday that two of its soldiers died after their unit stumbled on a roadside bomb in the southern Helmand province.

Their killings took the total of Estonian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to six. The small European country currently has 289 soldiers in Afghanistan.

US commanders predicted a deadly summer after President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more US troops to Afghanistan to turn the tide against a resurgent Taliban and shift the focus in the fight against Islamist extremism from Iraq.

July was the deadliest month for American forces in Afghanistan since the beginning of the conflict, with 44 dead.

With the security situation in Afghanistan appearing increasingly difficult, many are suggesting that commanders may request thousands more troops.

On Sunday, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the situation in Afghanistan as "serious and deteriorating," but refused to say whether additional forces would be needed.

"Afghanistan is very vulnerable in terms of (the) Taliban and extremists taking over again, and I don't think that threat's going to go away," he said on CNN's State of the Union.