Foreign troops have been in Afghanistan since 2001 when the US and UK invaded the country in order to remove the Taliban, who were accused of harbouring al-Qaeda operatives, from power.

The latest report by the United Nations on Afghanistan has said that last year was the deadliest year of the war so far.

It said incidents of suicide bombings, attacks using improvised explosives devices and gun battles had grown by 65 per cent between August and October 2009, about 40 per day, during the period of the country's corruption-marred elections, which saw Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, return to office.