Hundreds of Afghan troops raided a Taliban (search) hide-out in the mountains of central Afghanistan (search) and 18 rebels and two soldiers were killed in fierce fighting, a senior Afghan official said Saturday.

Security forces assaulted the rebel camp in Uruzgan province's Charchino district late Friday to flush out the terrorists who have been blamed for a spate of kidnappings and killings across the region, said provincial Gov. Jan Mohammed Khan.

The troops were still in the region Saturday searching for about 100 insurgents thought to be there.

"There are many Taliban hiding in the mountains. We are hunting them down and we will capture or kill them," Khan told The Associated Press.

The operation comes after fighting in the region left 25 people dead earlier this week, including nine tribal elders who Taliban rebels kidnapped and then killed, apparently in retaliation for the deaths of their own.