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Pakistan, Afghan and and US-led Forces Battle Insurgents 


Pakistani tribesmen look at vehicle damaged during clash between Pakistan army troops and suspected militants near Miran Shah

Afghan and U.S-led coalition forces are said to have killed 20 suspected insurgents in fierce fighting in southeastern Afghanistan. Across the border in Pakistan, government forces have killed 17 suspected militants, most of them are said to be foreigners.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi told reporters in Kabul that suspected militants carried out attacks on government forces, beginning late Thursday, at two locations in the southeastern province of Khost.

General Azimi says Afghan troops, backed by a U.S.-led anti-terror coalition force, responded with ground and air attacks, killing 20 militants linked to the ousted Taleban regime. He says three men from Chechnya and two from Uzbekistan were also among the dead. The clashes left one Afghan soldier dead.

In a separate incident in eastern Paktika province on Saturday, the U.S military says four American soldiers were wounded, when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle.

The Afghan province borders the North Waziristan region of neighboring Pakistan, where government soldiers on Sunday killed 17 militants, mostly foreigners.

Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan says the clash took place after troops surrounded the suspects in two houses near Miranshah, the administrative center of the border region.

He says the militants, including an unknown number of women and children, tried to escape in two vehicles.

"The security forces challenged them to stop, on which the militants resorted to firing. In the ensuing gun battle, the troops killed the militants and overpowered a few others who were injured. As many as 16 local facilitators have been apprehended by the security forces," he said.

General Sultan says one Pakistani soldier was also killed in the fighting.

On Friday, U.S forces based in Afghanistan killed 24 suspected insurgents inside Pakistan in the same region.

Afghan and U.S officials often complain that Taleban insurgents stage some attacks inside Afghanistan from border regions of Pakistan. Authorities in Pakistan, however, say they are doing all they can to stem militant activity, and have deployed thousands of troops on the long border with Afghanistan.

There has been an increase in anti-government attacks in Afghanistan, in which killing hundreds of people have been killed since March. Afghan and U.S. officials fear the violence is likely to worsen before parliamentary elections set for September.

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