Afghan officials say Taliban militants stormed a hospital in eastern Paktika province Wednesday, sparking a gun battle with coalition forces in which at least 14 attackers were killed and six others captured.

A provincial spokesman said troops who responded to the scene rescued the hospital's staff, and that one hospital guard was wounded.

In other violence Wednesday, two U.S. soldiers in the NATO-led force were killed in separate incidents. NATO said one soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device in the south, while the other died from hostile fire in the east.

And in the northern province of Kunduz, a bomb killed the head of the provincial justice department.

This year has been the deadliest for coalition forces since the U.S.-led invasion almost eight years ago.

Meanwhile, rescuers continued to sift through the rubble of Tuesday's truck bombing in southern Kandahar city.

Afghan officials say the blast killed 43 people, wounded at least 65, and destroyed a hotel and several houses.

Kandahar is a Taliban stronghold, but the group denied any responsibility for the blast. In a written statement, a Taliban spokesman said "the group condemns the attack in which innocent civilians were killed."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombing, while the United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said "the disregard for civilian lives shown by the perpetrators of the attack is staggering."

Tuesday's attack was the deadliest since July of last year when a suicide bomber blew up his explosive-laden car outside the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing 60 people, including two senior diplomats.

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