updated 4/12/2007 1:31:30 PM ET 2007-04-12T17:31:30

Roadside bombs struck two NATO convoys in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday and killed two soldiers hours after an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition killed at least 35 militants in the south, officials said.

The NATO convoys were patrolling five miles apart when they were hit by roadside bombs within 30 minutes of each other, the statement said. In addition to the two dead, one NATO soldier was wounded. NATO did not identify the killed and injured soldiers but most alliance soldiers in the east are American.

The latest violence came as NATO military leaders assembled in Canada to discuss more resources for their fight in Afghanistan’s volatile south.

U.S. and Afghan security forces were ambushed by militants and fought them for about an hour in southern Zabul province’s Shahjoy district before the airstrike on the fighters’ positions, officials said.

The joint forces tracked several Taliban who fled on motorcycle from the area of caves northeast of the city of Qalat. They requested an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan that left 24 militants dead, a U.S. coalition statement said. Ali Kheil, a spokesman for the Zabul governor, said authorities recovered 35 militants’ bodies.

The U.S. said a weapons cache was found in the caves.

There were no reports of any Afghan or coalition troops wounded or killed, said Maj. William Mitchell, a coalition spokesman.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was meeting with military leaders from Britain, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark and Romania — all partners in southern Afghanistan — to press them to contribute additional forces, equipment and other resources.

There are some 2,500 Canadian troops in Afghanistan in the 36,000-strong NATO force.

On Sunday, a roadside bomb killed six Canadian troops in the south, where NATO is carrying out its biggest ever anti-Taliban offensive. It was the single worst combat loss in Afghanistan for the Canadians, who have lost 53 soldiers and a diplomat in the country, according to the Canadian military.

On Wednesday, a bomb blast in the south killed two more Canadian soldiers and wounded three others, said Col. Mike Cessford, deputy commander of the Canadian contingent in Afghanistan.

NATO and the U.S. have made repeated calls for additional resources from allies, but have met resistance from some, including the French and Germans, who questioned the wisdom of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Each year Taliban fighters have stepped up their attacks as the spring thaw began. This year, Gates said, NATO must take the offensive and bring the fight to the militants.

The initial phase of the assault began last month with Operation Achilles — sending more than 5,500 NATO and Afghan troops into opium-producing Helmand province to battle hardcore Taliban insurgents.

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