Afghanistan: 40 Militants Killed by Afghan and NATO Forces During Last Operation

The defense ministry said Tuesday, Afghan and American forces killed 40 militants in 24 hours in eastern Afghanistan as they hunted mountains for insurgents behind one of the deadliest attacks of the war for U.S. troops.

Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 10 Afghan army troops were also killed in the same period around the country, most of them in Nuristan province's Kamdesh district, where eight Americans died Saturday after hundreds of Taliban militants overwhelmed their remote and thinly manned outposts.

The violence comes at a time when the Obama administration is grappling with how to quell the conflict, including whether the U.S. should send tens of thousands more troops. It also comes as the country nears a resolution to August's intensely disputed presidential vote. Election workers began recounting suspect ballots Monday and a ruling on whether President Hamid Karzai won or will face a runoff is likely next week.

Azimi said joint operations were ongoing Tuesday in Kamdesh and seven insurgents had been arrested there, The Associated Press reports.

Militants and troops have clashed frequently this month in the rural, eastern province. Eight U.S. soldiers died in Nuristan Saturday after hundreds of militant fighters stormed two military outposts.

The assault was the deadliest against U.S. forces in months. NATO and Afghan troops are searching the forested and mountainous terrain for the insurgents who started the violence.

On Monday, NATO officials in Afghanistan said Afghan and international forces detained a number of suspected militants in three separate operations.

The International Security Assistance Force says troops made the arrests after searching compounds northeast of Khost City, buildings west of Kandahar City, and buildings in the Saydabad district of Wardak province, Voice of America reports.

Meanwhile, in Washington debate is raging over what the US should do in Afghanistan. This selection of recent opinion pieces illustrates the deep divisions in thought.

BBC News quoted former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as saying, "The request for additional forces by the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen Stanley McChrystal, poses cruel dilemmas for President Obama. If he refuses the recommendation and General McChrystal's argument that his forces are inadequate for the mission, Obama will be blamed for the dramatic consequences. If he accepts the recommendation, his opponents may come to describe it, at least in part, as Obama's war. If he compromises, he may fall between all stools - too little to make progress, too much to still controversy. And he must make the choice on the basis of assessments he cannot prove when he makes them," BBC News reports.

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