Brown in Afghanistan after blasts kill four British soldiers

December 13th, 2008 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownKabul, Dec 13 (DPA) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived on a surprise visit to Afghanistan Saturday, a day after four British soldiers were killed in suicide and roadside attacks.A source in the Afghan presidential palace said Brown was scheduled to meet President Hamid Karzai, and the two would hold a joint press conference later in the day.

Brown’s visit came a day after four British soldiers were killed in two separate blasts in Sangin district of southern Helmand province Friday.

A Royal Marine was killed when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. An hour later, three soldiers on foot patrol were killed after a 13-year-old boy approached them with a wheelbarrow in which a bomb was hidden, officials said.

Taliban militants took responsibility for the attacks. In Camp Bastion, the main British military base in southern region, Brown paid tribute to the four soldiers, calling the deaths “a tragic loss”.

Brown last visited Afghanistan in August, when he pledged to continue British support for the country.

About 8,000 British soldiers are stationed in Helmand province, as part of a 50,000-strong Nato force deployed to Afghanistan from 40 nations.

Helmand is the hub for Taliban militants and foreign fighters associated with the movement. It is also the largest opium producing province in the country.

Friday’s deaths brought the total number of British troops killed in Afghanistan to 132.

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