At least six NATO soldiers were killed today in Afghanistan, including three Americans, a Briton and a French soldier, marking the deadliest day of violence so far in the new year. The nationality of the sixth NATO soldier was not known.
The American soldiers died in a firefight with militants while on patrol. The British soldier died in an explosion, and the French soldier died in a clash in Alasay Valley, with another French soldier gravely wounded.
The deaths came as something of a surprise, for while violence in Afghanistan is expected to be even worse this year than the record levels in 2009, there are traditionally few clashes in the winter, as the lack of infrastructure has kept militants stuck in the mountains until the spring thaw. Analysts speculate the increased number of troops in southern Afghanistan is providing for more convenient targets with less hectic travel.
The US lost 304 soldiers in 2009 in Afghanistan, out of a total of 502 NATO soldiers to die in the conflict. With the increased number of troops in the nation, it is expected that 2010 will surpass this handily, with Gen. McCaffrey predicting that the US alone could expect 500 casualties a month by this summer.
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