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U-S Uses New Type Bomb In Ongoing Afghan Battle - 2002-03-02


Fighting in eastern Afghanistan moves into a second day as U-S and Afghan forces press a major offensive against regrouping fighters of the Taleban and al-Qaida.

Late Saturday, U-S warplanes dropped a new type of bomb designed to drive all the air out of a cave, suffocating those inside. The strike marked the first use of "thermo-baric" bombs, developed only very recently.

The airstrikes targeted the estimated four-thousand Taleban and al-Qaida fighters holed up in the Shah-e-Kot mountains south of Kabul, in Paktia province.

The Pentagon says fighting in the area Saturday killed at least two Afghan fighters and one U-S soldier. Several other U-S soldiers were wounded. The number of al-Qaida and Taleban casualties is not known.

The battle began late Friday when hundreds of Afghan fighters backed by troops from the U-S-led coalition against terrorism attacked the al-Qaida and Taleban forces.

The U-S-led attack met strong resistance and pulled back around mid-day.

U-S military officials say the battle involves more U-S and coalition ground troops than any other in the five-month military campaign in Afghanistan.

U-S observers had noticed al-Qaida and Taleban fighters regrouping in the area earlier this week. Pakistan has sent military forces to its northwestern border to prevent Taleban and al-Qaida fighters from fleeing Afghanistan.

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