Wednesday, October 7, 2009

U.S.-Afghan assault kills 40 militants, Kabul says
KABUL -- American and Afghan troops swept through forested mountains in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, killing 40 militant fighters in a hunt for insurgents responsible for one of the war's deadliest attacks on U.S. troops, the Defense Ministry said.

Ten Afghan soldiers have been killed in... the operations since Monday, most of them in Nuristan province's Kamdesh district, ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said.

The violence was part of a spate of attacks across the nation, including a roadside bombing of a NATO convoy in Sayed Abad district west of Kabul that wounded two foreign soldiers, said Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, an American media officer for NATO forces.

Meanwhile, the country also is nearing a resolution to August's disputed presidential vote. Election workers began recounting suspect ballots Monday, and a ruling on whether President Hamid Karzai won or will face a runoff is expected next week.

Kamdesh, cut off from the rest of the region with no regular phone or radio contact and few roads, is where eight Americans and two Afghan troops died Saturday after hundreds of Taliban militants overwhelmed their thinly manned garrisons.Azimi said joint operations were continuing yesterday in Kamdesh, and seven insurgents had been arrested there.

Mathias, however, said there had "not been any significant engagement" in Kamdesh since Saturday. She said U.S. and Afghan forces were still in the remote area and had not pulled out.

NATO said in a statement that 100 attackers were killed in Saturday's fighting. The alliance had previously said only that coalition forces inflicted "heavy casualties" while defending the outposts with artillery, airstrikes and helicopter gunships.

NATO said Saturday's attack was carried out "by local anti-Afghan forces, while local Taliban" and fighters loyal to Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar "may have helped facilitate" it.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility.

In other violence yesterday, a patrol came under small-arms and rocket-propelled-grenade fire in Logar province, southwest of Kabul, but there were no casualties, Mathias said. Logar's police chief, Gen. Mohammed Mustafa Mosseini, said the attack sparked a gunbattle that led to the arrest of at least one militant.

In London, Britain's defense ministry said one British soldier died Monday after an explosion in southern Afghanistan. The soldier was on foot patrol near the Nad Ali district center in restive Helmand province.
U.S. war dead

Includes combat and noncombat military deaths:

• In Afghanistan: 791 since military operations began Oct. 7, 2001

Sources: Defense Department, Associated Press

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