Three NATO troops killed in Afghanistan’s Helmand province

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Three NATO troops killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s Helmand province were British, officials said Wednesday, as questions over security in the province continue to be raised.

The three soldiers from the Royal Highland Fusiliers died on Tuesday when their vehicle was hit on a routine patrol in the district of Nahr-e Saraj, part of the southern province Helmand.

"Their deaths come as a great loss to all those serving in Task Force Helmand," army spokesman Major Richard Morgan said in a statement from London, reported AFP news agency.

The British defense ministry said that security in Helmand, a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency, was improving but that it remained a risky and dangerous environment for British troops.

Taliban insurgents marked the start of their spring offensive on Sunday by claiming responsibility for a remote-controlled roadside bomb blast that killed three police officers.

In past years, spring has marked a significant upsurge in fighting between the Taliban and NATO forces along with their local allies. This fighting season is a key test, as the international coalition is scheduled to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces next year.

The death of the three Britons was announced by NATO's U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul on Tuesday without stating the nationalities of the victims, in line with coalition policy.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Taliban militants frequently use roadside bombs against foreign troops and their Afghan allies.

Afghan police and soldiers are taking over responsibility for security, but there is growing concern over the war-torn country's prospects after 2014 when all foreign combat deployments will end.

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