KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Violence raged across southern Afghanistan, killing 29 suspected militants, two British soldiers and two Afghan troops, and the U.S.-led coalition pressed on with its largest military offensive here since 2001, officials said Tuesday.
Resurgent Taliban militants and extremist allies are waging their fiercest campaign against Afghan and coalition forces since the extremist regime was toppled after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for hosting Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorists.
British forces came under attack early Tuesday in the Sangin valley of the southern Helmand province, where Britain has 3,300 troops, the British Defense Ministry said.
Two British soldiers were killed and one wounded in the firefight, said Capt. Drew Gibson, a military spokesman. Five suspected militants were also killed.
The last British combat death was June 11. In all, 10 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since November 2001.
Militants also ambushed an Afghan army patrol in Musa Qala, a remote Helmand provincial district about 20 miles north of Sangin, said Gen. Rahmatullah Roufi, the Afghan army commander in southern Afghanistan.
Two Afghan soldiers and 11 Taliban insurgents were killed in the fighting, Roufi said.
Also in the south, coalition and Afghan forces killed 10 militants during a raid Monday on a compound belonging to a weapons producer in the Shahidi Hassas district of Uruzgan province, the coalition said. The target also was accused of supplying roadside bombs.
Ten militants were killed in the raid, the military said. There were no reports of coalition casualties.
In the northern province of Kunduz, a suicide car bomber targeting coalition personnel instead killed two Afghans and wounded eight, provincial police chief Abdul Rahman Aqtash said.
A car packed with explosives targeted a convoy of reconstruction vehicles but instead killed and wounded Afghan bystanders, Aqtash said. Five children were among the wounded. The attacker was also killed.
No one in the targeted vehicles was hurt, said Maj. Luke Knittig, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.
Meanwhile, in Ghazni province, police engaged Taliban fighters who had gathered in a small village in Andar district, killing three militants, said provincial police chief Thafseer Khan. Three police were wounded.
To try to curb the incessant violence, more than 10,000 coalition and Afghan soldiers are sweeping Taliban holdouts in southern Afghanistan. More than 250 militants have been killed since operations began June 15 in southern Afghanistan, according to coalition figures.