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20 Suspected al-Qaida Members Killed in Afghanistan - 2003-10-27

Officials in Afghanistan say U.S.-led coalition forces and local allies have killed at least 20 suspected militants of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Afghan security officials say the fighting in the southeastern province of Paktika erupted on Friday, after coalition forces in the area came under attack.

The provincial police chief, Dawlat Khan, says the clash took place around the town of Khund, near the border with Pakistan. He says U.S. helicopter gunships were brought in to assist the ground troops.

The police chief says remnants of the ousted Taleban regime, Arabs, and Chechens were among the militants killed in the fighting.

Four suspects are said to have been captured in the operation, in which three Afghan soldiers were killed. It is not clear whether U.S.-led forces suffered any casualties.

The Afghan region where the clash took place lies opposite the Pakistani border town of Angoor Adda, where fugitive Taleban and al-Qaida fighters are believed to stage hit-and-run attacks on U.S. troops across the Afghan border.

In a major operation earlier this month, Pakistani troops killed at least eight members of the al-Qaida terror network in Angoor Adda. Most of those killed in that operation came from central Asian and Arab countries, according to officials.