Sun, Nov 16, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Landmine kills US troops

REUTERS , KABUL

At least three US soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan after their car went over a mine planted by militants, a top Afghan official said yesterday, but the US military said there was only one fatality in the attack.

The incident happened on Friday not far from a US military base in Manogi district, Kunar province, near the border with Pakistan, said Kunar's governor, Sayed Fazl Akbar.

"The car was hit by a freshly laid mine," Akbar said. "Three American soldiers lost their lives and the car itself was totally destroyed."

But US military spokesman Colonel Rodney Davis said that only one soldier from the 11,500-strong US-led force in Afghanistan had been killed. A US statement released late on Friday also said there had been one fatality in the attack near Asadabad in Kunar.

"One special operations force soldier was wounded and one special operations soldier died of his wounds in the vicinity of Asadabad," Davis told reporters.

Kunar's governor blamed remnants of the ousted Taliban, their al-Qaeda allies or followers of former prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar for the explosion.

The blast came a day after four Afghans were killed and three wounded when their car was hit by a remote-controlled device on the same road as Friday's attack.

Witnesses said the earlier attack was apparently intended for a vehicle from US-led forces which had passed by shortly before the device was triggered.

Just over a week ago US-led forces launched a new operation in the northeastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan to hunt down militants and take over their bases in the area.

Akbar said US forces had been scouring villages as part of Operation "Mountain Resolve."

He had no details of militant casualties or arrests of operatives in the area.

The Taliban, al-Qaeda and Hekmatyar have all called a jihad, or holy war, against foreign troops in Afghanistan, although the level of coordination between the three is unclear.

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