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US Forces and al-Qaida Fighters Clash in E.  Afghanistan - 2002-04-30

In Afghanistan, U.S. military officials say their forces have killed as many as four al-Qaida fighters in two separate battles in eastern Afghanistan. The officials say their troops also discovered major weapons caches in the area. A U.S. military spokesman at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, says the clashes occurred Monday and Tuesday near the city of Khost, about 200 kilometers south of Kabul.

The spokesman said two fighters believed to belong to al-Qaida were shot in the first encounter but were carried away by colleagues. He said that two fighters were confirmed to have died in the second encounter.

U.S. special forces also reportedly found mortar shells, grenades and ammunition in nearby caves and bunkers. U.S. and allied troops have been searching the mountains of eastern Afghanistan for remnants of the ousted Taleban government and its al-Qaida allies. Many of these fighters fled to the area after an offensive earlier this year in the Tora Bora mountains near the border with Pakistan.

The U.S. Defense Department Monday confirmed that a small number of U.S. military are operating inside Pakistan with Pakistani troops searching for al-Qaida and Taleban fighters.