The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan says coalition and Afghan forces have killed at least 26 suspected Taleban militants in the two days before NATO takes over security in southern Afghanistan.

A coalition statement says six Taleban insurgents were killed and eight captured during a clash Sunday in eastern Paktika province.

Late Saturday, coalition and Afghan forces killed at least 20 suspected Taleban in Uruzgan province.  The insurgents were trying to ambush coalition forces.

In southern Kandahar province, four suspected Taleban died in two separate incidents when land mines they were planting on roads exploded.

Three militants blew themselves up in Arghistan district late Saturday, while the fourth died Sunday in Shahwali Kot north of Kandahar city.

NATO is to take over security operations from the U.S.-led coalition Monday in six key southern Afghan provinces.

The number of NATO forces in Afghanistan will nearly double to around 18,000 by mid-August. 

U.S. forces will provide combat support for NATO in the south and continue their own hunt for terrorists, including al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
One of the challenges for NATO will be curbing Afghanistan's booming opium trade, which is thought to be funding insurgent activity and contributing to widespread corruption in the region.

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