Afghanistan Fighting Kills 2 US Soldiers, 30 Militants

Other News Materials 4 July 2009 19:02 (UTC +04:00)

U.S. and Afghan officials say two U.S. soldiers and at least 30 militants have been killed in fighting that began with a Taliban attack on a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan, VOA reported.

Officials say Taliban militants began firing on the base in the Zirok district of Paktika province Saturday.  During an ensuing clash with U.S. troops, a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden truck toward the base, but he was shot before he could reach it.  The truck exploded. 

The battle ended when the U.S. military called in airstrikes.  Afghan officials say at least 30 militants were killed.  The U.S. military says two of its soldiers were killed in an explosion. 

At least seven U.S. and two Afghan troops were wounded in the fighting.

Saturday's attack took place in the same province where an American soldier was believed captured by insurgents on Tuesday.  A Taliban faction led by Sirajuddin Haqqani operates in Paktika province and has been responsible for a number of high profile attacks.

The clash in Paktika comes just days after the United States launched a major offensive in southern Afghanistan to drive out Taliban insurgents and secure the area ahead of a presidential vote in Afghanistan in August.

About 4,000 U.S. Marines are taking part in the operation, which includes developing remote parts of Helmand province in a bid to win over local Afghanis.

Elsewhere in the south, the Afghan interior ministry says seven Afghan police officers were killed Saturday in a roadside bombing in Kandahar province.

The ministry says a bomb blast killed an Afghan civilian and wounded another in the northern province of Jawzjan Saturday.