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Eight US troops killed in east Afghan battle

EIGHT US troops were killed in battle after tribal militia attacked two combat outposts in a remote area in eastern Afghanistan, the military said today, the deadliest battle for US troops in more than a year.

Two Afghan soldiers were also killed in the battle, which took place in a remote area from which US forces had already announced plans to withdraw as part of commander General Stanley McChrystal's strategy to focus his forces on population centres.

Yesterday's attacks were launched by militia in Nuristan province from a local mosque and a nearby village on two joint NATO and Afghan outposts, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said. The NATO troops in the area are American.

"My heart goes out to the families of those we have lost and to their fellow soldiers who remained to finish the fight," Colonel Randy George, commander of the US force in the eastern mountain area bordering Pakistan, said in the statement.

"This was a complex attack in a difficult area. Both the US and Afghan soldiers fought bravely together. I am extremely proud of their professionalism and bravery."

The statement added: "coalition forces' previously announced plans to depart the area as part of a broader realignment to protect larger populations remains unchanged."


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