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20 killed in 'intense' firefight after NATO convoy is ambushed in Afghan mountains

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Insurgents ambushed a NATO coalition supply convoy in a mountainous area of western Afghanistan, sparking a three-hour firefight in which an Afghan soldier, five security guards and at least 14 attackers were killed, Afghan officials said Thursday.

Najibullah Najibi, a spokesman for the Afghan National Army's western region, told The Associated Press that the battle raged Wednesday along a highway regularly used by coalition supply trucks in Bala Buluk district of Farah province.

"The fighting was intense and we sent in extra forces," Najibi said.

Jangir / AFP - Getty Images

More than ten years after the beginning of the war, Afghanistan faces external pressure to reform as well as ongoing internal conflicts.

There were varying estimates of the number of militants killed. 

Raouf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Afghan National Police in the west, said more than 30 militants were killed and 10 others were

Suicide vests found in Afghan defense ministry

Sayed Abdul Wahid, an official of the Arya security company, said his workers who were fighting with AK-47s were overpowered by
militants using heavy weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.

Kevin Frayer / AP

In southern Afghanistan, the focus of the U.S. war effort, nearly all the Afghan soldiers are foreigners too. Photographer Kevin Frayer shows these soldiers in a series of portraits.

He said five of his employees were killed and five others were wounded by insurgents who burned three vehicles in the convoy.

US orders more security for troops in Afghanistan

Meanwhile. a service member with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force died after a blast caused by an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan, NBC News reported Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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