Afghan and US authorities said on Friday that troops killed 40 militants in some of the heaviest fighting this year in Afghanistan, which is gripped by mounting Taliban insurgent violence.
In the biggest clash, the US military said 30 militants died on Thursday in the flashpoint southern province of Helmand, in a district where a key anti-Taliban lawmaker was killed in a bomb attack the same day.
The toll was the highest from a single clash announced by the military in more than two months, with Afghanistan gearing up for another year of intense fighting against the Al Qaeda-linked Taliban after the winter months.
On January 7, the US said coalition soldiers killed 32 insurgents in an operation against a Taliban cell near the capital Kabul.
On Thursday, the Afghan army led a joint patrol into an area of Gereshk district where gunmen were known to operate, the US military said.
“The patrol was attacked by numerous armed militants with heavy small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire,” it said in a statement.
The “combined element returned fire with small-arms and close air support, killing 30 militants,” it added
There was no independent confirmation of the toll.
10 Afghans killed in Taliban attack
Nine Afghan policemen and a district chief were killed on Friday in heavy fighting with Taliban insurgents in northern Afghanistan. The fighting erupted in Jawzjan province, on the border with Turkmenistan.