(Reuters) Taliban insurgents killed six troops from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and three Afghan soldiers in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan, an ISAF spokesman said on Saturday.
It was the heaviest loss suffered by ISAF troops in Afghanistan in three months and comes as Afghan and international troops are engaged in daily battles across the length and breadth of the country to contain the spreading Taliban insurgency.
"I have sad news to report from regional command east where six ISAF soldiers and three Afghan army were killed by Taliban insurgents in an ambush yesterday," Brigadier General Carlos Branco told a news conference in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Eight ISAF troops and 11 Afghan soldiers were also wounded in the fighting, which began on Friday when insurgents ambushed their patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire as the troops were returning from a meeting with local elders.
Most ISAF troops based in the east of the country are American, but the force is withholding confirmation of the nationalities of the dead soldiers pending notification of next of kin.
Elsewhere, a suicide bomber killed one civilian and wounded three other people in the northern province of Kunduz on Saturday, a provincial security official said.
In the west of the country, Afghan troops backed by ISAF soldiers retook the district of Gulistan, captured by the Taliban nearly two weeks ago, the Afghan Defence Ministry said.