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US Bombing Ongoing in Afghan Mountains - 2002-03-04


U-S warplanes are pounding suspected al-Qaida and Taleban positions in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan after coalition ground forces ran into unexpected heavy resistance.

In the largest military campaign in Afghanistan this year, 15-hundred Afghan, U-S, and coalition troops are fighting to dislodge hundreds of al-Qaida and Taleban fighters dug into mountain tunnels and cave complexes in Paktia province outside the town of Gardez.

U-S Army Major A-C Roper says fighting on the ground has been intense since U-S warplanes first pounded anti-aircraft artillery sites, mortars, caves, and vehicles on Friday.

Several coalition countries are taking part in the operation, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, and Norway.

The U-S military says one American soldier and three Afghan fighters were killed, and an unspecified number of U-S and Afghan troops wounded. The number of al-Qaida and Taleban casualties is not known.

Meanwhile, Pakistan says its military has sealed off its northwestern border with Afghanistan to block the escape of Taleban and al-Qaida fighters.

Saturday, U-S warplanes dropped for the first time a newly-developed bomb designed to suffocate inhabitants of underground bunkers.

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