GARDEZ, Afghanistan — Two NATO soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan when a vehicle they were traveling in struck a roadside bomb, while 15 militants and three civilians were killed in fighting in the south, military officials said on Monday.

The incident in eastern Afghanistan happened in Paktika province, which borders Pakistan. The deaths come as violence has surged in Afghanistan in recent weeks, with seven U.S. soldiers killed in the past week.

“There were two ISAF members that were killed in Regional Command East,” Lt. Col. David Accetta, top spokesman for U.S. troops, said via telephone from Bagram air base, just north of Kabul.

U.S. military spokesmen would not yet confirm the nationalities of those killed, but Paktika is under the security control of U.S. forces. Paktika province is also currently the scene of an Afghan-led military operation, dubbed Operation Attal, which is being conducted to clear Taliban forces from the area. U.S. forces are supporting the Afghans in the operation.

Separately, a U.S.-led operation in southern Afghanistan’s volatile Helmand province left 15 insurgents dead, along with three civilians. According to Maj. Chris Belcher, another U.S. spokesman, the militants, who were suspected of having links to Taliban bomb-making experts, barricaded themselves in a building that coalition forces threw a grenade into, killing everyone inside.

“Coalition forces found a woman and two children in the collapsed building who were dead along with several militants and their weapons,” Belcher said.

Another woman was wounded and was transported to a medical facility in the area, Belcher said.

“We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased,” he added. “Coalition members take every precaution possible to protect civilians not taking part in hostilities from harm, [BUT]on this operation we were not aware of any civilians in the area.”

Two other suspected insurgents were detained for questioning.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now