Tue, Jul 22, 2003 - Page 5 News List

US chases down and kills gunmen in Afghanistan

AP , KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN

US soldiers killed about two dozen suspected Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan after their convoy came under attack, the military said.

The suspected militants ambushed the convoy near the town of Spinboldak on Saturday, US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Lefforge said Sunday.

The American troops returned fire, killing five attackers and pursuing the rest into the surrounding hills, Lefforge said.

US Apache helicopter gunships chased the group and killed an estimated 19 of the suspected Taliban, he said.

Also Saturday, some 60 suspected Taliban fighters attacked a border post in southern Afghanistan with heavy machine guns and assault rifles before escaping across the border into Pakistan, a government official said.

None of the Afghan soldiers at the post were hurt in the three-hour battle at the Shero Obah government post, said Khalik Khan Achekzai. They called about 100 Afghan soldiers and 20 US Special Forces for assistance from Kandahar, about 100km away.

Two of the suspected Taliban fighters died and five were injured in the border attack, said another government official, Fazluddin Aga.

"They [the attackers] came from the direction of Pakistan. When we sent more troops with US soldiers, they crossed the border and returned to Pakistan," Achekzai said.

The US Special Forces called in helicopter gunships, which pounded the area.

While no group took responsibility for the attack, suspicion fell on the Taliban, which was ousted in the US-led coalition's war on terror in late 2001.

Achekzai said the fighters who attacked late Saturday were loyalists of former Taliban commander Hafiz Abdul Rahim.

He is among several Taliban leaders Afghani President Hamid Karzai has asked for Pakistan's help in capturing.

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