KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, AP -Fighting between Taliban rebels and U.S. and Afghan forces killed about 50 suspected militants and two Afghan soldiers, in the deadliest clashes in weeks ahead of crucial legislative elections, a provincial governor said Tuesday.
The fighting late Monday in Uruzgan province”s Dihrawud district came during an offensive against a rebel camp, which had been used as a base for attacks in neighboring areas, Gov. Jan Mohammed Khan said.
About 25 suspected insurgents were captured, he said, adding that Afghan forces were still finding the bodies of rebels Tuesday.
An American military spokeswoman said she had no details. But a U.S. military statement issued Monday said that heavy fighting in the area had killed one American service member, an Afghan soldier and 11 rebels. Three U.S. troops and one Afghan soldier were also wounded, it said.
The statement said American fighter jets and attack helicopters responded to a rebel attack on a patrol that sparked the gunbattle.
Meanwhile, in fighting elsewhere, police arrested 10 suspected Taliban insurgents after clashes in southeastern Zabul province, said Ali Khail, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
In neighboring Kandahar province, Taliban guerrillas attacked an Afghan patrol Monday night, triggering a gunbattle that left an Afghan soldier dead and a police officer badly wounded, said deputy district chief Haji Lala Khan.
In eastern Paktika province Tuesday, a candidate in the upcoming legislative elections was killed when a roadside bomb blew up next to his vehicle as he was taking his sick mother to hospital, local police chief Malik Khan said. The mother was wounded.
The latest fighting comes three days after the U.S. military operational commander in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, told The Associated Press in an interview that fighting in recent months had devastated the ranks of the Taliban.
More than 800 people have been killed in a major upsurge in violence since March and U.S. and Afghan officials have warned that it may threaten the parliamentary elections on Sept. 18.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 protesters Tuesday chanted "Die America!" as they banged on the gates of the main U.S. base in Afghanistan to demand the release of three local villagers detained in a raid.
The three men who were detained were arrested Monday night in a raid on Dheymullah village, about two miles from Bagram base, said local government chief Kaber Ahmad.
"Those three were wanted by the Americans, but no one knows why," he said.
Stacks of tires were dumped on the main road near the base and burned, sending clouds of black smoke billowing over the area. Demonstrators said they were angry with the Americans for carrying out the raid without first consulting local authorities.