Eight US, two Afghan forces killed in "complex" attack

Kabul  - Eight US soldiers and two Afghan troops were killed when suspected Taliban insurgents attacked their outposts in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan, officials said Sunday.

The militants launched a "complex" attack from a local mosque and nearby village on Afghan and US forces Saturday that raged throughout the day in Nuristan province, the US military said in a statement.

"Coalition forces effectively repelled the attack and inflicted heavy enemy casualties while eight ISAF and two ANSF service members were killed," the statement said.

NATO spokesman Colonel Wayne Shanks confirmed that the eight ISAF casualties were US soldiers.

The attack was the deadliest single assault for around 60,000 US military troops in Afghanistan in past several months. The combined force was operating under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the rebel fighters killed 40 US soldiers and 30 Afghan forces in the "massive offensive," while four insurgents were killed and seven injured when the US military responded with aerial bombings.

Muajahid claimed that their fighters captured 30 Afghan security forces including the police chief of Kamdish district, where the combat occurred.

Nuristan Governor Jamaluddin Bader confirmed the clash, but said all communications with the remote district headquarters were cut off.

Colonel Randy George, US commander of Task Force Mountain Warrior, described the attack in the statement as "complex" and "in a difficult area."

"Previously announced plans to depart the area as part of a broader realignment to protect larger population centers remain unchanged," the statement said. "The sources of the conflict in the area involved complex tribal, religious and economic dynamics."

The attack happened one day after five US soldiers were killed in separate Taliban-led attacks. US and other NATO military fatalities are on the rise as Taliban militants have stepped up attacks on Afghan and foreign forces this year.

A total of 387 international soldiers had been killed in the Afghanistan conflict so far this year, according to icasualties. org, an independent website that tracks casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, without counting the latest deaths.

The 2009 fatalities make it the deadliest year since international deployments began in late 2001 when the US ousted the Taliban's ultra-Islamic regime from Kabul.

Meanwhile, Taliban militants attacked a German military convoy in Chardarah district of northern province of Kunduz on Saturday night, sparking gunbattle with forces, Abdul Wahid Omarkhel, the district administrative chief said.

Omarkhel could not say if there were any casualties on the both sides, but Mujahid said the rebel fighters destroyed four German tanks and killed up to 13 soldiers.

German military spokesmen were not available for comment.

Meanwhile, the district governor for Kunduz's Emamsaheb district said that the attack that killed four civilians and injured 20 others in the district of Saturday evening, was carried out by a suicide bomber, riding a motorbike.

Mohammad Omar, the provincial governor had said that the blast was triggered by explosives hidden in a motorbike.

Taliban militants have infiltrated the peaceful northern and western provinces, raising fear that the militant group could wage a country-wide insurgency against the Western-backed Afghan government.

The top NATO commander, US General Stanley McChrystal, has asked for up to 40,000 extra foreign troops to help reverse gains made by Taliban over the past recent years. Currently more than 100,000 international troops are stationed in the country.

US President Barack Obama, who ordered 21,000 additional USsoldiers earlier this year, has yet to respond to the demand.  dpa