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U.S. forces 'kill 14 in Afghanistan'
( 2004-01-02 09:52) (Agencies)

U.S. troops and helicopters killed as many as 14 enemy fighters in clashes in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the military said Thursday.

Three U.S. soldiers were wounded in the battle Wednesday some 12 miles northeast of Shkin, a town in Paktika province near the Pakistan border.

The first three enemy fighters were killed in a gunbattle after a small group of insurgents fired on a U.S. patrol, spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty said.

One of the wounded American soldiers was evacuated and is in a stable condition. "He wasn't terribly badly hurt," Hilferty said.

The other two immediately returned to duty.

The same patrol later caught up with the insurgents, and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters flying in support inflicted several more casualties, Hilferty said.

"We don't know for sure, but we think 11," he said. "It was getting night and we didn't go to see the bodies."

Suspected Taliban and al Qaeda militants regularly attack U.S. and allied Afghan forces as well as government and aid workers in a broad swath of southern and eastern Afghanistan along the rugged Pakistani frontier.

The U.S. military, which still has more than 11,000 troops here, says it killed 10 militants and detained more than 100 people in a four-week operation in the border regions called Avalanche which ended Monday.

Afghan, U.S. and U.N. officials have urged Pakistan to prevent insurgents from using the country as a base for cross-border attacks.

Pakistan, a key ally in the United States' war on terrorism, insists it is doing all it can.

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