KANDAHAR - A US soldier was killed and at least two others wounded when coalition troops came under three separate attacks in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, the coalition said.

The soldier was killed in volatile Helmand province in a battle in which strike aircraft, including British Harriers, were called in to assist, coalition spokesman Major Quentin Innes said.

Battle damage, including other casualties, was still being assessed but four vehicles had been damaged, three set on fire, Innes said.

Earlier in the day, two US patrols were attacked in separate ambushes in neighbouring Zabul province. Two coalition soldiers were wounded in one of the attacks.

Nearly 30 foreign soldiers have been killed in hostile action in Afghanistan this year, more than half of them Americans.

Six Canadian, four French and two Italian soldiers have also died in combat, most of them in an upsurge of attacks in the past few weeks.

There are more than 20,000 troops serving in the coalition, which is deployed mostly in southern and eastern Afghanistan to hunt down militants from the Taliban government that was toppled in late 2001.

06/13/2006 17:32 GMT

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