Shah Marai  /  AFP - Getty Images
U.S. soldiers stand guard in the southern Afghanistan town of Qalat, on Wednesday. Two foreign soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition, one of them American, were killed in an attack the same day, the coalition said.
updated 3/29/2006 7:14:33 AM ET 2006-03-29T12:14:33

Fierce fighting following an insurgent attack on a U.S.-led coalition base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday killed 32 suspected Taliban militants and two troops — one American and one Canadian, officials said.

Twelve militants were killed in the initial attack on the base in Helmand province's Sangin district, while another 20 were killed as the insurgents fled, a U.S. military statement said. Two buildings at a Taliban compound were later destroyed, it said.

The battle also wounded three Canadian soldiers, Canadian Brig. Gen. David Fraser told reporters at a base in southern Kandahar city. A U.S. military statement said an American soldier was also hurt.

Helmand is a hotbed of insurgency and center of the booming trade in illegal drugs and has been the scene of some of the deadliest fighting in recent months.

The attack followed separate roadside bombings in the region Tuesday that killed six Afghan soldiers and four private security workers, respectively. Officials blamed both bombings on Taliban rebels. Suspected Taliban rebels also attacked a police checkpoint in Kandahar city late Tuesday, killing two officers and wounding four, police said.

Aircraft called in
In Wednesday’s incident, coalition troops called in aircraft to attack the militants, the U.S. military statement said. It added the military was still conducting a full assessment of the battle.

Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata said the troops “defeated a significant enemy element.”

The wounded soldiers were rushed for treatment to a base in Kandahar.

Department of Defense via AP
Private Robert Costall was killed during a Taliban attack on coalition troops in Afghanistan's Helmund province, on Wednesday.
The U.S. military said one of the dead was American, but did not identify him, pending notification of next of kin. Fraser said the slain Canadian was Pvt. Robert Costall, of the 1st Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta.

It was not immediately clear if the violence was linked to the drug trade. Helmand is Afghanistan’s main opium poppy growing region and there have been fears of widespread violence since an aggressive poppy eradication campaign started in recent weeks.

Popular hiding place
Helmand’s rugged mountains are also popular hiding places for Taliban rebels, many of whom are believed to slip back and forth across the province’s largely unguarded border with Pakistan.

One of Tuesday’s roadside bombings struck an army vehicle on a road in Helmand province northwest of Kandahar, killing six Afghan soldiers, said Gen. Rehmatullah Raufi, a top Afghan army official in the province. He blamed the Taliban for the attack, but offered no evidence.

“We know that it is the work of Taliban terrorists, and our forces are trying to trace and capture them,” he told The Associated Press.

Hours earlier, a roadside bomb exploded as a Namibian and three Afghans working for Houston-based U.S. Protection and Investigations were driving in a convoy on the main road linking Kandahar city with Herat, the main city in western Afghanistan. The company provides security for a construction company in the area.

Bill Dupre, the firm’s deputy managing director in Kabul, said the victims’ vehicle caught the “full brunt” of the remote-controlled bomb blast, killing the four instantly. Several other vehicles in the convoy returned to their camp safely, he said.

Nimroz Gov. Ghulam Dusthaqir Azad blamed the Taliban for that assault, as well.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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