Three NATO troops killed in Afghanistan

KABUL: Three NATO troops — two from Estonia and one from the US — were killed in attacks in southern Afghanistan as fraud charges continued to pour today from last week’s turbulent presidential vote.

The American service member died in an insurgent attack yesterday, the US military said without providing details. Estonia’s Defence Ministry said two soldiers were killed after their unit stumbled on a roadside bomb in southern Helmand province.

It was the 37th death for the US military in Afghanistan since the beginning of August, a month that has seen a jump in attacks and violence as the country prepared for its second-ever direct presidential election last week.

Though millions of Afghans went to the polls, turnout was dampened

by Taliban threats leading up to the balloting. Those who voted did so amid rocket attacks in the south, a gunbattle in the capital, and fighting that trapped people inside stations in the east.

Allegations of fraud

and intimidation have streamed in since election day. The independent Electoral Complaints Commission said today that it has so far received about 45 complaints

that could affect the outcome of the election if proved valid.

The most common

was ballot-box stuffing. Both President Hamid Karzai and leading challenger former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah have accused each other of fraud.

The United Nations urged candidates and

the Afghan people to wait for fraud charges to be

investigated before

doubting the legitimacy

of the election.

“There’s no doubt that there have been irregularities during the polling day,” said Kai Eide, the UN’s top official in Afghanistan.

“I appeal to the candidates and to their campaigns, and also to the voters, to demonstrate the patience and calm that is required” while independent monitors investigate allegations, he said.

Eide also responded

to reports that the UN

had called the election

a success by reiterating

his statement that it was “an important achievement” for the people of Afghanistan.

“It is too early to use words that go beyond that,” Eide said.

US commanders predicted a deadly summer after President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more US troops to Afghanistan to turn the tide against a resurgent Taliban and shift the

focus in the fight against Islamist extremism from Iraq.

July was the deadliest month for American forces in Afghanistan

since the beginning of

the conflict, with 44

dead. Estonia has 289

soldiers in Afghanistan and the recent deaths mean the small European country has lost six

soldiers there.

With the security situation in Afghanistan

appearing increasingly difficult, many are suggesting that US commanders may request thousands more troops.

Yesterday, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the situation in Afghanistan as “serious and deteriorating,” but

refused to say whether

additional forces would

be needed.

“Afghanistan is very

vulnerable in terms of (the) Taliban and extremists taking over again,

and I don’t think that threat’s going to go away,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”