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Nato soldiers killed in Afghanistan

media Afghan delegates speak at last week's peace jirga in Kabul Reuters

Thirteen Nato soldiers and two contractors have been killed within two days in Afghanistan, one of the deadliest periods for the alliance this year. The increasing violence has led many to dismiss peace efforts.

Seven Americans, two Australians and one French soldier were killed on Monday by an insurgent Taliban militia, in the deadliest day since 26 October 2009 when 14 Americans died in two helicopter crashes.

Three more Nato troops were killed on Tuesday by a bomb attack and in a gun battle.

Almost all of the events took place in Kandahar province, where the Taliban base their main activities. It is also where the foreign troops are building up their operations.

The Taliban have recently vowed a new campaign of attacks on diplomats, lawmakers and foreign forces.

Escalating violence comes in reaction to the peace discussions, says Waheed Mujda, a political analyst who was a government official during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.

“Taliban were quite unhappy about the peace jirga discussions and the fact that neither the withdrawal of foreign forces nor amendments to the constitution (to include Islamic law) were discussed,” Mujda said.

“So they have intensified their operations because they want to be powerful and be in a better position."

But Nato, US and Afghan soldiers are also preparing their largest-to-date offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar province. The number of soldiers in this province should reach its peak at 150,000 by August.

President Barack Obama has ordered an intensification of the US war effort. He hopes an initial surge will be sufficient enough to break the back of the Taliban insurgency and allow him to start withdrawing troops next year.

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