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More troops lost to roadside bombs: a familiar pattern

As fighting intensifies in Afghanistan, July fatalities so far are higher than for all of June.

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The Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan are turning to a familiar tool to try to kill more Americans and allied troops: the roadside bomb.

Allied troops reported 736 IED incidents last month, up from 234 in June 2007, according to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, a Defense Department group. "Incidents" include bombs that detonate and are effective, as well as bombs that are found and cleared and those that detonate but are not injurious.

So far this year, 107 American service members have been killed in Afghanistan – compared with 155 for all of 2008, according to the website icasualties.org. Last month, there were 38 coalition fatalities, but so far in July, not yet half over, there have already been 40. British forces have lost 15 soldiers in the past 11 days.

"Certainly when we mount operations like this, we are going to take casualties," Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the top uniformed officer of the British military, told reporters in Washington Monday.

More violence before less?

As the US "surges" more than 21,000 additional troops into Afghanistan and commanders stage more combat operations, officials expected the increased fighting to yield more casualties. A major combat operation by US marines and British forces operating in southern Afghanistan is under way now.

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