KABUL, Afghanistan – Insurgents trying to escape U.S. Marines took refuge in a cave and killed two Americans during a five-hour battle in eastern Afghanistan that left about 23 rebels dead, the U.S. military said Monday.
The clash, which also involved American attack planes, was the latest in a string of battles that the military says has inflicted heavy losses on militants who have intensified attacks since winter snows melted.
A U.S. statement said Sunday’s battle began when a Marine unit checked on a tip about insurgents operating in Laghman, an opium-producing area 60 miles east of the capital, Kabul.
American commanders insist they are grinding the insurgents down and persuading villagers along the Pakistani border to stop sheltering them. They also suggest an 18,000-member U.S.-led international force could be trimmed.