msnbc.com news services
updated 3/23/2008 5:33:05 AM ET 2008-03-23T09:33:05

Afghan and NATO forces killed more than 40 insurgents in a joint air and ground battle in southern Afghanistan, a security official said Sunday. Separately, two soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition died after hitting a roadside bomb.

Troops seized dozens of weapons -- including rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns -- after Saturday's battle in Dihrawud, a district in Uruzgan province, the Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement. It said many militants were killed, including a commander, but provided no figures.

An official at the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details about the battle, put the number of dead at more than 40 .

Also Saturday, U.S.-led coalition troops hit a roadside bomb in Kandahar province as they were conducting a security patrol with Afghan troops, the coalition said in a statement. Two soldiers died, it said, without releasing their nationalities.

Last year was the most violent in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The U.N. says more than 8,000 people died in insurgency-related violence.

Taliban insurgents planted hundreds of roadside bombs in 2007. More than 200 foreign troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2007 while nearly 30 troops from the U.S.-led coalition and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have been killed since so far this year.

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