Afghan and American forces killed 40 militants in 24 hours as they hunted in mountainous eastern Afghanistan for insurgents behind one of the deadliest attacks of the war for US troops, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.
Ministry spokesman Gen Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 10 Afghan army troops were also killed in the same period around the country, most of them in Nuristan province's Kamdesh district, where eight Americans and two Afghan security troopers died on Saturday after hundreds of Taliban militants overwhelmed their remote and thinly manned outposts.
The violence comes at a time when the Obama administration is grappling with how to quell the conflict, including whether the US should send tens of thousands more troops. It also comes as the country nears a resolution to August's intensely disputed presidential vote. Election workers began recounting suspect ballots yesterday and a ruling on whether President Hamid Karzai won or will face a runoff is likely next week.
Azimi said joint operations were ongoing today in Kamdesh, and seven insurgents had been arrested there.
Capt Elizabeth Mathias, an American media officer for NATO forces, however, said there had "not been any significant engagement" in Kamdesh since Saturday. She said US and Afghan forces were still in the remote area and had not pulled out.