The US has suffered more than 72,000 battlefield casualties since the start of the war on terror in 2001, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The query by the campaigning Veterans for Common Sense organisation shows that 4372 American soldiers have died and another 67,671 have been wounded in action, injured in accidents or succumbed to illness in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The veterans' group had to force the US Defence Department to release the figures by persuading judges to uphold their FoI rights.

A second request to the Veterans' Administration, the government-funded body responsible for taking care of ex-servicemen and women, showed 263,909 soldiers with experience of the two 21st-century wars have so far received treatment for everything from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the aftermath of amputated limbs.

It also showed 52,375 veterans had been diagnosed with PTSD and 34,138 have received approval for disability claims for the psychological disorder. As of October 31 last year, 1.6 million Americans have been deployed overseas since 2001.

Harvard University estimates the cost of caring for Iraq and Afghan veterans over the next 40 years will amount to between £125bn and £350bn, depending on the long-term effects of trauma.

More than 240,000 of those deployed have received some form of counselling at veterans' centres.

British military losses in the two conflicts are 261 dead and more than 600 wounded in action. Another 3000 have been hospitalised as a result of road accidents or disease.

In central Afghanistan yesterday, nine Afghan policemen, including a district police chief, were killed in an anti-Taliban operation by US-led coalition troops, officials said. Several insurgents also died.

Also yesterday, a Nato soldier was killed and two others wounded when an explosion struck their patrol in the south of the country. The nationalities of the soldiers and the exact location of the blast were not given.