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Afghanistan Marks Independence Day With Low-Key Event

Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepares to lay a wreath at Independence Day celebrations in Kabul on August 18.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has marked the 93rd anniversary of the country's independence in a ceremony in Kabul.

In a low-key event attended by government officials and the honor guard, Karzai placed a wreath at the foot of the monument of freedom in the Defense Ministry compound.

The anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919, which gave Afghanistan complete independence from British rule, went largely unobserved on the streets of the capital.

Although Britain controlled Afghanistan's foreign policy for 40 years following the end of the second Anglo-Afghan War, Afghanistan was never part of the British Empire, and many Afghans consider the anniversary insignificant.

Several Kabul residents, however, told Reuters they were disappointed that the historic day was no longer being marked by many Afghans.

In other news, Britain confirmed that a British soldier has been killed in Afghanistan.

In a statement, the British Ministry of Defense said the soldier died from enemy fire in the Nahr-e Saraj district of restive Helmand Province on August 17.

No further details were given about the soldier's identity.

The statement said the latest casualty brings the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 425, with 385 coming as a result of enemy action.

Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force after the United States.

Britain soldiers are based in Helmand, where they are battling Taliban insurgents and helping to training Afghan security forces.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Pajhwok