Three US soldiers, 25 Taliban killed in renewed violence

KHOST: Bomb attacks in Afghanistan claimed the lives of three US soldiers, officials said today, as NATO and Afghan forces killed 25 Taliban fighters in separate assaults.

The NATO-run International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the three American troops died in two attacks on Friday.

"Two US service members were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in eastern Afghanistan October 16, and one US service member was killed in an IED attack in southern Afghanistan on the same day," ISAF said.

IEDs, homemade bombs planted on roadsides and difficult to detect, are claiming increasing numbers of foreign soldiers fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan.

US President Barack Obama is under pressure to order thousands more soldiers to Afghanistan, where the commander of the 100,000-strong US and NATO force, General Stanley McChrystal, has reportedly asked for 40,000 extra troops. NATO's commander in the south, Dutch Major General Mart de Kruit, told AFP in an interview this week that 10,000 to 15,000 more troops were required to ensure security in the region.

In the deadliest incident reported Saturday, an air strike killed 20 militants yesterday in Urgun district, in southern Paktika province, said Hamidullah Zawak, spokesman for the provincial governor. "These people intended to attack security posts and the US-led coalition. They were killed before they could do so," he told AFP by telephone.

The Afghan defence ministry said meanwhile five militants were killed in an Afghan army commando operation on Friday in the Gereshk district of Helmand province, also in the south.

In Sangin district, also in Helmand, one Afghan soldier was killed and another injured during a small-arms attack, the ministry added.

Southern Afghanistan -- the spiritual heartland of the Taliban -- has seen the most fierce fighting since US-led international forces toppled the hardline Islamist regime in 2001.