Afghan army forces are looking for 100 Taliban fighters, believed to be hiding in that area after the attack on Friday night, reported Aljazeera's correspondent, quoting government sources.

 

Friday's clash came after Taliban fighters launched the attack in Charcheno early that morning, killing four police officers and losing seven of their own fighters.

   

On Saturday, three police officers were wounded, one critically, when their vehicle hit a mine while patrolling in the north of Kandahar province bordering Uruzgan, provincial police chief Ayub Salangi said.

 

Meanwhile, US fighter planes bombed a suspected Taliban compound in the mountains in eastern Afghanistan on the area where an elite American military team has been missing for five days, a US military spokesman said.


It was not known whether there were any casualties.

 

Taliban capture

 

One missing US soldier captured,
says the Taliban

The US strike came even as the Taliban said it had captured a US soldier. 

The group's spokesman Abd al-Latif Hakimi told Aljazeera that it would release pictures of the captive shortly.

 

The US soldier was captured in clashes last week in the eastern Afghan province of Konar, Hakimi said.

 

The US bombing on Konar on Friday evening came after the clashes and the disappearance of more US troops after a search helicopter was shot down in the area.

 

"The bombing was done using precision-guided munitions. The target objective was intelligence-driven," said US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jerry O'Hara.  

 

O'Hara declined to say whether the air strike was directly related to the missing military team.

 

No sign 

 

He said earlier that rescuers, who are scouring the mountains near Asadabad town, Konar province, close to the Pakistani border, have found no sign of the missing team.

 

"The bombing was done using precision-guided munitions. The target objective was intelligence driven"

Lt Col Jerry O'Hara,
US military spokesman

US forces were using "every available asset" to search for the missing men, O'Hara said. The troops are a small team from the special operations forces, said military officials.

 

The loss of the helicopter, the missing men and the fierce clashes in central Afghanistan follow three months of fighting that has killed about 490 suspected rebels, 49 Afghan police and soldiers, 134 civilians and 45 US troops.

 

Eight months ago, Afghan and US officials were hailing a relatively peaceful presidential election as a sign that the Taliban rebellion was finished.  

 

But the Taliban government has stepped up attacks, and there are signs that foreign fighters - including some linked to al-Qaida - might be making a new push.

 

Afghan officials say the fighters have used the porous border with Pakistan to enter the country, and officials have called on the Pakistani government to do more to stop them.