Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Zahir Marad said on Saturday that they were killed in and around the Miana Shien district of Kandahar province since Tuesday.

"Our forces have collected the bodies of 76 more rebels from the battlefield," he said.

 

Meanwhile, across the Afghan-Pakistan border, a truck carrying bombs, hundreds of rockets, missiles and other weapons exploded.

 

The blast, on a road in a remote region on Saturday, sent  rockets shooting into the air for hours and killing the driver and his assistant, an official said.

Local Pakistani official Anwar Zeb said the truck was passing through the Chutkhail area of South Waziristan near Afghanistan when it suddenly exploded.

"We don't know what caused the blast, but we do know that the dead men belonged to a local Wazir tribe," he said.

No casualties

Zeb said officers were attempting to determine who had asked the pair to bring the weapons to South Waziristan, a tribal region which has been the scene of dozens of Pakistani army operations against alleged al-Qaida-linked fighters and their local supporters in recent years.

"Thank God, they did not hit any homes and no civilians were hurt"

Anwar Zeb,
Local Pakistani official
 

He said the blast was so powerful that rockets and missiles kept flying in the air and falling in nearby fields for hours.

"Thank God, they did not hit any homes and no civilians were hurt," he said.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in what it called the "war on terror" and has deployed about 70,000 troops in the country's tribal regions near Afghanistan.