U.S. Troops Kill at Least 29 Insurgents on Afghan-Pakistani Border
KABUL – U.S. coalition troops attacked a suspected foreign fighter camp in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least 29 insurgents in an intense firefight, the military said, while a NATO soldier died after a roadside bomb attack in the south.
At least six insurgents equipped with explosives blew themselves up during the clash in eastern Paktika province near the border with Pakistan, the coalition said in a statement.
One coalition member was wounded in the assault, in which troops also called in airstrikes for support.
Afghan authorities said they recovered 34 bodies, including 22 Arabs and Pakistanis, said Hamidullah Zuhak, a spokesman for Paktika's governor. They found personal documents on the bodies of those killed, he said.
Following the battle, forces discovered weapons caches containing rocket-propelled grenade launchers, AK-47 assault rifles, suicide vests and other armaments, the military said in a statement.
Insurgents use the volatile and porous border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan as a base for operations, from which U.S. military officers say they launch attacks on Western troops.
The administration of President Barack Obama has declared eliminating militant havens in Pakistan vital to its goals of defeating al-Qaida and winning the war in Afghanistan.
Separately, a NATO soldier was killed in a roadside bomb blast in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, the military alliance said in a statement. It did not provide any other details about the location of the blast or the nationality of the victim.
In the neighboring Kandahar province, meanwhile, arsonists burned down a boys' school overnight, officials said Thursday.
Two watchmen who were guarding the school were attacked by two men who tied them up and locked them in a room while they set fire to surrounding buildings, said one of the guards, Yaar Mohammad. He and the other guard managed to escape after the assailants left, he said.
Another boys' school in Kandahar city was hit by a rocket the same night, but only a wall was damaged, said Najibullah Ahmadi, the provincial education director.
Militants regularly attack government-run schools and their students in Afghanistan as part of their campaign to weaken the government's grip. Many of the harshest attacks have been on girls' schools, seen by extremists as antithetical to their brand of Islam, but boys' schools have not been immune.
As a result, scores of schools have been closed across southern Afghanistan, which is the Taliban's heartland. Thousands of new U.S. troops are to deploy to the region later this year.
No one was injured in the fire, but all the classrooms were destroyed along with schoolbooks and Qurans, the Islamic holy book, said Abdur Razzaq, the school principal.
More than 450 students attend the school in Kandahar's Daman district.