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Gordon Brown hails fallen troops in Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • British troop death toll hits 100 after 3 paratroopers die in suicide bombing Sunday
  • 824 coalition troops, including 500 Americans, have died in the 7-year conflict
  • British contingent among the most active NATO units in war against the Taliban
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has paid tribute to troops serving in Afghanistan, a day after the British death toll in the conflict reached 100.

Three British paratroopers were killed Sunday in a suicide bombing in southern Afghanistan. A fourth soldier wounded in the attack was expected to survive, the Ministry of Defense reported.

"I want to pay tribute to the courage of all the 100 British troops who have given their lives in Afghanistan in the service of their country," Mr Brown said in a statement.

He added: "The risks they bear and the sacrifices they make should be in our thoughts, not just today but every day.

"They have paid the ultimate price, but they have achieved something of lasting value - helping turn a lawless region sheltering terrorists into an emerging democracy."

Britain has about 7,300 soldiers in southern Afghanistan, fighting alongside U.S., Canadian, Dutch, and local Afghan forces.

The latest attack occurred near a British base in the southern Helmand province around 11 a.m. Sunday. The troops killed were from the 2nd Battalion of Britain's Parachute Regiment. One was dead on arrival at a military hospital, while the other two died of their wounds there.

The British contingent in Afghanistan is among the most active NATO units in the nearly seven-year-old war with the Taliban, the Islamic movement that ruled most of Afghanistan before its al Qaeda allies attacked New York and Washington in 2001.

A U.S.-led invasion the following October drove the Taliban from power, but U.S. and allied troops have been fighting its remnants in the country's mountainous south ever since.

A total of 824 coalition troops have been killed in the Afghan conflict, including more than 500 Americans.

In a joint statement with Defense Secretary Des Browne, Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, the British military's chief of staff, offered his sympathy for the deaths, but said British troops "are engaged in a most worthy and noble endeavor, and they are making good progress."

"Our Armed Forces are resolute in doing what their country asks of them," Stirrup said. "These deaths, though hard to bear, remind us all of the extraordinary sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf -- and of the price of failure if we falter in Afghanistan. We continue to owe them a great debt of gratitude."

He said British troops had put the Taliban "on the back foot" in Helmand province and improved the lives of ordinary Afghans in the process.

"Make no mistake, the Taliban influence is waning, and through British blood, determination and grit, a window of opportunity has been opened," he said.

At least 14 others were killed Sunday in suspected Taliban attacks across southern Afghanistan, including six police officers in Ghazni province, and a district official and three of his bodyguards in Khost, officials said.

An Afghan journalist working for the British Broadcasting Corporation was found dead Sunday, a day after he was abducted in southern Afghanistan, network and Afghan officials said.

Gunmen abducted Abdul Samad Rohani in southern Helmand province Saturday, said Ahmad Nabi Jan, an official with provincial police. His body was found stabbed and shot in a cemetery near the provincial capital.

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