4 US Coalition Troops Killed in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – A roadside blast Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan killed four U.S. coalition soldiers and an Afghan, the coalition said.

Military-world website: U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in 2008 already have surpassed the record 111 deaths the U.S. suffered last year. The number of attacks on U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan has risen by around 30 percent this year compared with 2007, U.S. military officials say.

The mountainous eastern region borders Pakistanā€˜s tribal areas, where Afghan and U.S. officials allege that al-Qaida has managed to reconstitute itself after being driven out of Afghanistan following the 2001 invasion that ousted the Taliban from power.

Gates said the U.S. military takes extraordinary precautions to avoid civilian casualties, but added, “It is clear that we have to work even harder.”

A U.S. military review found that up to 35 Taliban fighters and seven civilians died in the raid. But after video of Azizabad surfaced showing dead children and dozens of bodies, the U.S. said it would send a one-star general from the United States to investigate.

“Europe, with the exception of Britain and France, has since quite a long time ago decided to disarm and to not allocate sufficient funding for defense and security,” Morin told reporters at a joint press conference with Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon in Canberra.

Fitzgibbon frequently criticizes unnamed European countries for not carrying a fair share of the growing military effort in Afghanistan. He said his criticisms of the European military contribution have not been directed at France.