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US Delivers Aid for Chad Soldiers Who Battled Suspected Terrorists

The U.S. military has delivered food, medical supplies and other assistance to Chad to support government troops there who last week battled suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaida.

Two C-130 Hercules cargo planes have delivered more than 19 metric tons of aid to Chad, including food, blankets and medical supplies. The rush mission was ordered by the U.S. military's European Command, following a request from the government of Chad.

That request came after government troops in the African country battled fighters of the al-Qaida linked Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in northern Chad near the border with Niger.

Chadian officials have said 43 alleged terrorists were killed, nine of them Algerians with the other fatalities from Mali and Niger. At least four militants were captured.

A senior Chadian official is quoted in a U.S. military statement issued Monday as saying the engagement led to the discovery and seizure of five trucks, each equipped with heavy machine-guns along with a cache of rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 automatic rifles, mortars and ammunition.

The official, Governor Hassane Djangbei, also reports the alleged terrorists had satellite telephones and global positioning devices. He says unspecified documents were seized after the battle.

The official thanked the United States for the supplies, delivered Saturday to an airfield at Faya-Largeau, 600 kilometers south of the site of the fighting. He says the aid will be used in part to help soldiers injured in the battle as well as the overall Chadian government effort to fight terrorism.

Three government soldiers were killed and 18 wounded in the two-day battle. U.S. officials have said no American ground troops were involved. But they say American forces provided surveillance information, other intelligence and communications that assisted in the successful interception of the alleged terrorists.

The armed group, led by a former Algerian soldier named Saifi Ammari and nicknamed "the Para," had apparently fled from the Algeria-Mali border area and crossed Niger into Chad when it was caught. The group had been blamed for the kidnappings last year of European tourists in the Sahara.

The United States has been training government troops in counter-terrorist tactics in Mali and Mauritania. Similar training will be carried out in Chad and Niger later this year.