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Afghanistan Fighting Kills 2 US Soldiers, 30 Militants

U.S. and Afghan officials say two U.S. soldiers and at least 30 militants have been killed in fighting that began with a Taliban attack on a base in eastern Afghanistan.

Officials say Taliban militants began firing rockets and mortars on the base in the Zirok district of Paktika province Saturday. NATO says one of the mortars contained white phosphorus.

During an ensuing clash with troops, a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden truck toward the base, but he was shot before he could reach it. The truck exploded.

The battle ended when troops called in airstrikes. A provincial Afghan official, Hamidullah Zawak, says at least 30 militants were killed. The U.S. military says two of its soldiers were killed in an explosion.

The troops were fighting under NATO, which released a statement saying 10 militants were killed. None of the death tolls could be independently verified.

Saturday's attack took place in the same province where an American soldier was believed captured by insurgents on Tuesday. A Taliban faction led by Sirajuddin Haqqani operates in Paktika province and has been responsible for a number of high profile attacks.

The clash in Paktika comes just days after the United States launched a major offensive in southern Afghanistan to drive out Taliban insurgents and secure the area ahead of a presidential vote in Afghanistan in August.

About 4,000 U.S. Marines are taking part in the operation, which includes developing remote parts of Helmand province in a bid to win over local Afghans.

Elsewhere in the south, the Afghan interior ministry says seven Afghan police officers were killed Saturday in a roadside bombing in Kandahar province.

The ministry says a bomb blast killed an Afghan civilian and wounded another in the northern province of Jawzjan Saturday.

And Afghan defense officials say two Afghan soldiers were killed Friday in a roadside bombing in the Musa Qala district of Helmand.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.