updated 11/9/2008 2:25:37 PM ET 2008-11-09T19:25:37

A suicide car bomber killed two Spanish soldiers in western Afghanistan on Sunday, while U.S. coalition forces separately killed 14 militants who fired on them, officials said.

The suicide bomber attacked the troops in the western province of Herat, which experiences much less violence than southern and eastern provinces.

In Spain, Carmen Chacon of the Spanish Defense Ministry said six Spanish armored military vehicles were escorting 12 Afghan army trucks when the suicide bomber rammed his truck into the last vehicle in the convoy. Two Spanish soldiers were killed and four were wounded, she said.

More troops have died
More U.S. and NATO troops have died in Afghanistan this year than in any other year since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Militant attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and powerful.

In the east, in Khost province, U.S. coalition forces stopped suspected militants in a vehicle Sunday, and when they approached the vehicle those inside began firing, said Col. Greg Julian, a U.S. military spokesman.

Julian said helicopter gunfire was also used against the attackers and 14 were killed.

The province's governor, Arsallah Jamal, said the 14 men were civilian construction workers and were not militants. But Julian insisted that the 14 were militants.

"The main thing is they started firing on these guys (soldiers) after they made the vehicle stop," Julian said.

Civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO military forces is a hugely sensitive issue in Afghanistan. This week the U.S. said a joint U.S.-Afghan investigation found that 37 civilians were killed during a battle between U.S. troops and Taliban militants in the village of Wech Baghtu in Kandahar province.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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