Afghan and NATO troops backed by helicopter gunships launched a major offensive against Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan Wednesday, killing at least 35 insurgents.
The Afghan defense ministry said two Afghan army officers were also killed during clashes in Arghandab district and surrounding areas south of Kandahar city.
NATO spokesman, Mark Laity told VOA Afghan Service troops met with little resistance, saying the number of insurgents may have been exaggerated by the Taliban.
NATO General Carlo Branco said Afghan and NATO forces are moving carefully through Arghandab to minimize civilian casualties and to avoid any bombs planted by the insurgents.
Also Wednesday, NATO officials say two soldiers were killed and 10 others injured during a routine patrol in eastern Paktika province.
Dozens of Taliban fighters swarmed into Arghandab Monday, blowing up bridges and planting land mines - days after a massive jail break from Kandahar's main prison.
A Taliban spokesman said militants want to capture Arghandab to launch attacks on Kandahar.
Head of Kandahar's provincial council Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai said at least 1,500 families in the area have left their homes.
And, the British defense ministry says a roadside blast killed four of its soldiers Tuesday during an operation in southern Helmand province. One of the victims was a female soldier - the first woman to die in action in Afghanistan.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.