South Asia

Seven Nato soldiers die in separate Afghanistan attacks

Isaf soldier in Afghanistan
Image caption Isaf did not give details of the nationalities of those killed

At least seven Nato soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in separate attacks, a day after six coalition troops died in a number of attacks.

Four soldiers were killed in attacks in south and east Afghanistan, while three others were killed in the west.

The killings mean the last two days have been among the bloodiest for international forces in recent months.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has denied it has had unofficial contacts with the Afghan government.

In the latest incident on Thursday, two soldiers were killed in a "insurgent attack" in the south.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) has not given details of the nationalities of the dead soldiers.

However American, Spanish, Italian and Lithuanian troops are based in the west of the country.

In the east, it is mainly the US soldiers while US, British, Danish, Australian and Canadian troops are based in the south.

More than 40 Nato soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this month.

On Wednesday, six soldiers were killed in attacks in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Five were killed in two separate blasts in the south, while an "insurgent attack" in the east of the country killed another, Isaf said.

'Baseless propaganda'

Meanwhile Taliban spokesman Zabihollah Mojahed told the BBC Persian website that Afghan President Hamid Karzai's recent claims to have had secret talks with them were untrue.

President Karzai said earlier this month that "unofficial contacts" had been established with the Taliban in an attempt to end the war.

"I categorically deny that any such contacts were made," Taliban spokesman Zabihollah Mojahed said.

"We do not believe in holding secret talks without our mujahideen's knowledge... the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is not willing to negotiate with anybody before foreign troops have been removed from our soil."

Image caption The Taliban have been fighting Western troops since 2001

A similar denial was made in a statement by the Taliban released to the BBC in Karachi, which said that claims of secret talks were "futile and baseless propaganda".

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul said that while it is undoubtedly true that the Taliban have held talks at various levels with the Afghan government over the last 18 months, the challenge for President Karzai is to build on those negotiations.

Our correspondent said that the Taliban is a disparate group and it is possible that there are disagreements within the movement itself as to whether negotiations are the best way forward.

More than 2,000 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the conflict in 2001.

Thursday's deaths brought the number of foreign soldiers killed this year to 588, a number higher than the previous record of 521 in 2009.

Improvised explosive devices are the weapons of choice for the Taliban and other insurgents fighting the 152,000 foreign troops under US and Nato command in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Nato defence and foreign ministers will meet later on Thursday at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels.

Correspondents say that they will deliberate on a draft of the "strategic concept" that will lay out the alliance's vision for the next decade.

The mission statement will then be endorsed by Nato leaders at a meeting in Lisbon next month.

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