HERAT (AFP) - The US military said Friday that troops killed 53 militants in clashes and air strikes in Afghanistan, the latest in a recent upsurge of heavy battles in insurgent strongholds across the war-torn country. Six Afghan soldiers were also killed. Six soldiers and 18 Taliban were killed in heavy fighting in northwestern Afghanistan Friday, a provincial governor said. Afghan National Army troops were ambushed in the province of Badghis, on the border with Turkmenistan, as they entered a village to which they had been invited by elders for a meeting, governor Delbar Jan Arman told AFP. In the fighting that followed, six of the soldiers were killed and five wounded, he said. Eighteen Taliban were killed and as many hurt, the official said. Separately the fighting erupted Thursday when Afghan and US-led troops came under heavy fire while on patrol in southern Zabul province, the military said. The combined forces returned fire and requested air support, killing 35 and wounding 13, it said in a statement. The remaining militants fled, and the wounded treated and taken into Afghan army custody, it said. No troops or civilians were reported hurt, the statement said. The province borders Pakistans Balochistan. The Afghan and US militaries also reported heavy fighting Thursday, further east in an area of Paktika province that also borders Balochistan. Acting on intelligence, security forces raided an encampment where a wanted commander of the Talibans Haqqani network was believed to be meeting other militants. The defence ministry said 35 militants were killed in the clash. Six blew themselves up to avoid capture, it said. The US military said around 30 died. It is not clear if the wanted commander, named Sangeen, was among the dead.