Coalition Forces Kill 5 Suspected Militants in Afghanistan

U.S. and Afghan soldiers killed five militants during a large-scale operation targeting Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in a volatile eastern region near Pakistan, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

The renewed violence in Kunar province came as Afghanistan urged neighboring Pakistan to do more to curb militancy on their shared frontier, drawing an angry rebuke from Islamabad, which has deployed 80,000 soldiers to the region.

Two U.S. soldiers, meanwhile, were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in the southern Zabul province's Argandab district, military spokesman Lt. Mike Cody said.

The soldiers were in stable condition. It was unclear who was behind the blast, but Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for rising violence throughout the region.

On Monday, coalition forces shot dead five militants near Kunar's provincial capital of Asadabad, about 105 miles northeast of Kabul, after a patrol spotted a group of seven, a U.S. military statement said.

It was unclear what happened to the remaining two militants.

Some 2,500 American and Afghan soldiers in Operation Mountain Lion are hunting down extremists loyal to the toppled Taliban regime and their Al Qaeda allies, along with armed criminals active in the region.

On the Pakistani side of the border opposite Kunar, Pakistani forces deployed in remote villages to stop militants fleeing the U.S.-Afghan operation.

They were among tens of thousands Pakistani soldiers deployed in tribal regions to counter increased attacks on Pakistani forces, hunt extremists in the region and stop militants crossing the border.

But Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesman demanded Tuesday that Pakistan increase efforts to curb terrorism in the frontier region stretching 1,470 miles.

"We demand more and better cooperation from Pakistan, as well as the international community, against terrorism," Karzai spokesman Rahim Karimi said. "Afghanistan should shake hands as friends with Pakistan and work together in the struggle against terrorism."

In Islamabad, Pakistan, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said his country has done enough to fight terrorism and "Afghanistan should do its part."

Pakistan and Afghan officials believe top Al Qaeda and Taliban figures, including Usama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may be hiding in the border regions.

Pakistan became a close American ally in the war on terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks and ended its open support of the Taliban, which had sheltered bin Laden and his Al Qaeda forces.

But Afghan officials suspect sections of Pakistan's secret services may still be aiding extremist elements inside Afghanistan. Pakistan denies those claims.

Separately, U.S. forces shot at a car and wounded two men who failed to heed orders to stop in the eastern province of Khost, a military spokeswoman said.

Also, Afghan and coalition forces arrested eight insurgents Tuesday in Kandahar province's Maywand district after a raid targeting suspected drug traffickers, the military said in a statement.

The Taliban has vowed to increase attacks against Afghan and coalition forces during the spring and summer months, making use of the thawing of mountain passes blocked by winter ice and snow.

The United States has more than 18,000 troops in Afghanistan.

The rising violence is a growing concern to other nations contributing troops under the mandate of NATO, which is doubling its current force of 10,000 troops to about 21,000 by November, as it gradually assumes command of all international forces in the country.

Some 6,000 mainly British, Canadian and Dutch troops have started moving into the rebellious southern provinces.

British Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram told The Associated Press that the 5,000 British troops being deployed will "assist in tackling the evil of the narcotics trade."

Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the world's opium and heroin, and some of the profits are believed to go to the Taliban. Security forces recently have been deployed in a major campaign to destroy poppy fields in the main growing region of Helmand, where most of the British troops will be based, because of concerns that cultivation is increasing.