A senior Afghan official said on Monday that about 200 Afghan police, supported by the US-led coalition, fought the insurgents in the mountains of Ghorak district in Kandahar province on Sunday night.

"We have the dead bodies," said Kandahar governor Asadullah Khalid, adding that assault rifles and some ammunition were confiscated from the fighters.

He said 44 other suspects were arrested and that the Afghan and international forces had suffered no casualties.

US military spokesman Colonel James Yonts on Monday confirmed that more than 40 suspected insurgents had been taken into custody, but gave no further details about the military operation in Kandahar, which he said was continuing.