US aircraft bombard southern Afghanistan

American aircraft have bombed southern Afghanistan for the second time this week after two US soldiers were injured in a clash near the border with Pakistan.

    There are 20,000 occupation troops in Afghanistan

    The US military

    said on Saturday t

    he

     bombardment took place in rough terrain about 230km south of Kabul in Paktika province.

    It was the second time this week the 20,000-strong US-led occupation forces

    have called in an air strike in southern Afghanistan.

    On Tuesday, US aircraft bombed an area between Qalat in Zabul

    province and Spin Boldak on Afghanistan's southern border after a

    patrol came under fire.

    The Taliban has regrouped after
    being ousted from power in 2001

    Local officials said 20 suspected Taliban were killed by

    the bombing or by Afghan soldiers on the ground in Arghistan, a town

    which lies roughly mid-way between Qalat and Spin Boldak.

    But the United States has only confirmed the deaths of two

    fighters in the incident.

    Mountain hideout

    The bombardment came after two American troops were wounded in a firefight on Thursday night

    near the town of Shkin in the border region.

    US military

    spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tucker Mansager said:

    "We had two coalition casualties in the engagement that led up

    to us using ordnance down there."

    Local officials have said as many as 200 suspected Taliban

    fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 rifles are

    hiding out in the mountains bordering Pakistan

    .

    US-led forces are concentrated in the south and southeast

    of the country

    , particularly along the porous border area believed

    to harbour al-Qaida fighters and as well as Taliban members

    .

    The Taliban government was ousted from power in 2001 by a US-led coalition.

    Deadly shooting

    In another incident in the southeast, US soldiers allegedly

    killed one man and arrested a second in a house in Khost city, a

    local official said.

    US forces in Afghanistan are
    hunting Usama bin Ladin

    "They entered the house midnight on Friday and shot dead the owner

    of the house (who was) sleeping outdoors, close to the main gate,"

    Khost province's security director Muhammad Zaman said.

    "Right at this moment I don't have information on whether these

    people were terrorists and Taliban," he added.

    A spokesperson for the occupation forces was not immediately available

    for comment.

    In the lead-up to presidential and parliamentary elections

    scheduled for September, Afghanistan has been hit by a wave of

    violence directed against US and Afghan troops and aid workers in

    the south and southeast.

    The US military announced on Saturday that thousands of Afghan

    national army troops would be deployed around the country to provide

    security for voter registration and the polls.

    SOURCE: AFP


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