Mine blast kills British soldier in Afghanistan

A mine blast killed a British soldier and wounded five others in southern Afghanistan, the British Ministry of Defence said on Monday.

More than 760 foreign soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in 2001. Last year was the most violent yet as the resurgent Taliban’s attacks spread to relatively peaceful parts of the country and more suicide bombs hit the cities.

The dead soldier was attached to the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, the ministry said, a unit involved in mentoring Afghan troops in the volatile province of Helmand, one of the main centres of Taliban activity and the world’s biggest opium-producing region.

Taliban rebels are active throughout the rural areas of southern Afghanistan while ISAF and Afghan troops hold the cities and towns.

The United States is sending 3,200 Marines to southern Afghanistan after commanders complained they often do not have the manpower to hold ground taken from the insurgents and Afghan security forces are not yet strong enough to do so for them.

Afghan army and police killed two Taliban commanders and four other insurgents west of the main southern city of Kandahar on Saturday, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

(Reporting by Jon Hemming in Kabul and Kate Kelland in London; Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)