Afghan fighting leaves 2 soldiers, 14 rebels dead | india | Hindustan Times
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Afghan fighting leaves 2 soldiers, 14 rebels dead

The upsurge in fighting comes as NATO forces prepare to take over from US troops in the Taliban heartland in the south.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 14:44 IST

Two foreign soldiers and 14 rebels have been killed in the latest clashes in the most serious spell of violence in Afghanistan since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001, military officials said on Wednesday.

The upsurge in fighting comes as NATO forces prepare to take over from US troops in the Taliban heartland in the south.

An American soldier died in an ambush in the southern province of Helmand on Tuesday, said Major Quentin Innes, a spokesman for international forces in southern Afghanistan.

The ambush triggered a fierce clash in which coalition forces backed by helicopters and planes attacked Taliban positions.

"We believe 12 suspected Taliban were killed in the bombing," Innes said, adding the coalition was assessing if there were any civilian casualties in the air strikes.

The US military said another foreign soldier was killed in eastern Kunar province on Tuesday but did not give his identity.

Two Taliban fighters were killed in a gunbattle in the restive province of Zabul after they ambushed a US convoy, wounding two American soldiers.

Taliban officials could not be immediately contacted.

Almost 40 foreign soldiers have been killed in combat in Afghanistan this year, nearly 30 of them Americans.

They are among more than 900 people killed this year, more than 400 in May. Several thousand civilians have fled their homes fearing more fighting in the south, which has been the focus of militant attacks and coalition-led operations.

The surge of violence is the worst since coalition forces backed by Afghan factions toppled the Taliban government after its leadership refused to hand over Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2001.

It coincides with the deployment of thousands of NATO-led troops in the south to allow US Army to trim its force to 20,000 from 23,000.