Afghan security forces backed by foreign troops killed 16 insurgents in eastern Afghanistan, the defence ministry said on Sunday, also announcing the deaths of two soldiers as Taliban-linked violence spikes.
The rebels were killed on Saturday as troops pounded their positions with artillery in the Bargi Matal district of Nuristan province, a mountainous region on the Pakistan border, the defence ministry said in a statement.
"The enemy launched several rockets on a military outpost. The troops responded and killed 16 enemy fighters," it said.
Dozens of Taliban-linked militants stormed and briefly captured Bargi Matal district centre after days of fighting in the first week of July.
Afghan and foreign forces recaptured the area days later in an assault which saw several rebels and police killed.
The Islamist Taliban militia is waging an insurgency aimed at regaining power after being ousted from government in a US-led invasion in late 2001.
The insurgency has gained pace, with this year seeing the deadliest fighting both for Afghans and the 90,000 foreign troops stationed in Kabul, raising fears for the security of presidential elections due on August 20.
The defence ministry said two Afghan soldiers were killed when their vehicle struck a mine planted by the Taliban in eastern Paktika province, another insurgency-hit region on the Pakistan border.
The troops were on patrol when the incident took place on Saturday, the statement said. Three other soldiers were wounded, it added.
Four Italian soldiers were also wounded on Saturday in a roadside bomb blast in the western province of Herat, local police and an International Security Assistance Force spokesman said.
Besides battling the rebels, international troops from mainly the US, Britain and Canada are helping Kabul build up its own security forces.