The rate at which British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan is almost four times that of their US counterparts, and double the rate which is officially classified as "major combat". Analysis by the Medical Research Council's biostatistics unit at the University of Cambridge also found that the death rate of UK troops is twice that of 2006, when they were described as being involved in the fiercest fighting since their involvement in Korea 50 years ago. The researchers said the "UK could expect at least as many military fatalities in 10 weeks in Afghanistan as in 20 weeks in 2006". The official classification of "major combat" is a killing rate of six per 1,000 personnel years. For the 12 months up to May, the killing rate for British troops in Afghanistan stood at 13. During February and May, the death rate of UK military personnel reached 9.9 per 1,000 personnel years compared with 2.7 for US forces in Afghanistan. During the four previous months, the UK rate reached 12 compared with 3.9 for the US and between May and October last year it peaked at 17.3, twice the figure of 8.4 experienced by American forces during the period. Of the 299 British soldiers killed during the Afghanistan campaign so far, 265 were killed in action, with the remainder victim to accidents, friendly fire or suicide. There has been a spike in the number of British soldiers killed by gunfire as opposed to roadside bombs, the asymmetric tactics utilised with deadly effect by the Taliban throughout last year. During 2009, fewer than one in five soldiers was killed by small-arms fire. The average age of British casualties is 22. Two hundred soldiers have been killed in their twenties and 31 teenagers are among the death toll. Twenty-six of the 299 British casualties are officer class and one female soldier has died. Geographically, they are from a fairly even spread throughout the UK. (The Guardian)