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U.S. Soldier Killed, Five Hurt in Afghan Clash

U.S. Soldier Killed, Five Hurt in Afghan Clash

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BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) -- U.S. soldiers exchanged fire Friday with suspected Taliban fighters in eastern Afghanistan. Two American soldiers were killed and several wounded, the military said.

An Afghan soldier accompanying the patrol of about 35 U.S. special forces in Paktika province also was hurt, Col. Roger King told The Associated Press.

King said one U.S. soldier was killed and five wounded. But in Washington, Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Richard Myers later said two U.S. soldiers were killed.

The gunbattle at Shkin, near the border with Pakistan, involved at least 20 suspected Taliban fighters, King said at Bagram, the U.S. military headquarters north of the capital, Kabul.

He said a second group of 35 U.S. soldiers was quickly called in, and two F-16 fighter jets, an A-10 fighter aircraft and helicopter gunships pounded the area.

At least three enemy fighters were killed, while the remainder escaped across the nearby border into Pakistan.

The area in eastern Afghanistan has been one of the most active in the country, with frequent rocket attacks on U.S. bases. Taliban remnants are believed to have linked forces with al-Qaida fugitives and followers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister who has gone underground and vowed to undermine the government of President Hamid Karzai.

The U.S. special forces had come to the area to investigate "suspicious activity," King said. The gunbattle occurred not far from where rockets were fired Wednesday at a U.S. military outpost.

The wounded were airlifted to Bagram and the southern city of Kandahar for treatment, King said. None of the soldiers were identified.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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