KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Afghan and US troops backed by American aircraft fought suspected Taliban rebels yesterday in southern Afghanistan, leaving a US service member and seven militants dead, officials said.
A US service member and an Afghan soldier were wounded in the fighting in Helmand Province's Sangin district, the US military said in a statement.
The region is a hotbed of insurgency and the booming drug trade.
Afghan army commander General Rahmatullah Raufi said seven suspected Taliban rebels were killed, while several others fled.
US warplanes dropped 11 guided bombs on about 20 militants involved in the clash, the US statement said, adding that an assessment of militant casualties was ongoing.
''There are known Taliban extremists in the Sangin district, and the Afghan National Army and coalition forces will continue to attack these enemies of Afghanistan until the district and province are safe and secure," US Commander Major General Benjamin C. Freakley said.
The wounded troops were evacuated to a coalition base for treatment, the statement said.
The American's death brought to 222 the number of US service members killed in and around Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.
Fighting has spiked in southern Afghanistan in the past year, leaving swaths of it off-limits to aid workers and raising concerns for this country's fragile democracy.