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Dozens of bodies found after clash at Afghan military base

From Matiullah Mati, CNN
  • A governor says foreign fighters were among the bodies found
  • A governor's spokesman says no NATO or Afghan troops were killed in the battle
  • NATO estimates nearly 80 people were killed in the attack
  • An air weapons team opened fire after an attack on a combat outpost, NATO says

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The bodies of about 80 people were found on the battlefield a day after attackers clashed with NATO and Afghan forces in southeastern Afghanistan, officials said Sunday.

Foreign fighters from Arab countries and Chechnya were among the bodies found, Paktika Province Governor Muhibullah Samim said.

The insurgents attacked a military base, Combat Outpost Margah, in Barmal district, a spokesman for the province's governor said.

All the people killed were insurgents, according to Farid Mukhlis, the governor's spokesman.

Authorities said no NATO or Afghan troops or civilians were killed in the clashes, which began at midnight Friday and continued into Saturday morning.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said it had confirmed 38 dead, and based on helicopter camera footage estimated that more than 40 additional enemies were killed.

In addition, NATO forces recovered two wounded attackers from the battlefield.

"The fact the insurgents left both their dead and wounded laying there on the battlefield is significant," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, commanding general for NATO's Regional Command-East. "We had multiple indicators an attack like this was going to happen in that area in an attempt to gain victory before the end of the fighting season, and our combined Afghan and coalition forces were ready for them."

Five coalition troops were wounded during the battle, but all of them had returned to duty by Sunday, the force said.

"Insurgents attacked from all directions with rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and mortar fire," the statement said, and a coalition air weapons team responded to the attack.

CNN's Pierre Bairin contributed to this report.