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Death toll of British troops in Afghanistan rises to 201
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08:59, August 17, 2009

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Another British soldier was killed in Afghanistan, bringing the country's death toll killed in Afghanistan since operations began to 201, the Ministry of Defense said Sunday.

The soldier died of injuries sustained in an explosion while on a foot patrol near northern Helmand province on Saturday.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the news as "deeply tragic," but added: "It is to make Britain safe and the rest of the world safe that we must make sure we honor our commitment to maintain a free and stable Afghanistan."

"The best way to honor the memory of those who have died is to see that commitment through," he said.

Violence has escalated ahead of the Afghan presidential election scheduled for Aug. 20. Seven people were killed in a suicide bombing on Saturday in the heart of the Afghan capital's most secure district.

Britain has deployed some 9,000 troops in Afghanistan, most of them based in Helm and province. July was the deadliest month for British troops since 2001, with 22 British soldiers killed.

The soaring death toll and the rising cost of the war have put huge pressure on Brown's government.

British Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth also defended Britain's Afghan policy, saying: "The operation in Afghanistan is vital to our national interests and our national security as we believe it is."

"If we abandon Afghanistan, Afghanistan will fall back to the hands of Taliban," Ainsworth said.

Source: Xinhua

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