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Old 26 April 2003, 18:27
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Soldier Dies In Afghan Firefight
Associated Press
April 26, 2003

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - U.S. soldiers exchanged fire Friday with suspected Taliban fighters in eastern Afghanistan. One American soldier was killed and several were wounded, one seriously, the U.S. military said.

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

King said one American soldier was killed and five wounded.

In Washington, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Richard Myers later said two U.S. soldiers were killed, but Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. David Lapan said that was incorrect.

One soldier was killed and one was seriously wounded, Lapan said.

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

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.

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.
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