American and Afghan ground forces backed by helicopter gunships fought two groups of insurgents, killing one person, in the first clashes of an operation in the snowy mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Tuesday.
U.S. military spokesman Col. Rodney Davis said the soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division "Warrior Brigade" were searching for guerrillas in the rugged Nuristan region, where the fighting is taking place about 13,000 feet above sea level.
The operation was launched Friday in Nuristan and neighboring Kunar province. It apparently targets elements of a network of insurgents, including Al Qaeda, the Taliban and forces loyal to renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister who has called for a jihad, or holy war, against foreign troops in Afghanistan.
No coalition troops were hurt in those battles, but in the south gunmen killed a Romanian soldier, his country's first such loss since it sent troops to help the U.S.-led coalition in 2001, Romania's Defense Ministry said.
The ministry said the 33-year-old sergeant was killed when his convoy of armored vehicles came under attack near Spin Buldak. Another soldier was injured.
In Kandahar, a car bomb damaged two U.N. offices, injuring two people, and a police commander blamed the Al Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban, which have stepped up attacks against the limited authority of Afghanistan's central government two years after the hard-liners were driven from power by the coalition.