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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-314420 Afghanistan / U-S / Pakistan
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=3/24/04

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITILE=AFGHANISTAN / U-S / PAKISTAN (L-O)

NUMBER=2-314420

BYLINE=AYAZ GUL

DATELINE=ISLAMABAD

INTRO: An accidental explosion during a training exercise in Afghanistan has killed four Afghan soldiers and wounded nine other people, including several Americans. From neighboring Pakistan, Ayaz Gul reports.

TEXT: U-S military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Bryan Hilferty says the accident happened in the eastern town of Gardez while the soldiers were taking part in an explosives exercise.

///HILFERTY ACT///

Four Afghan National Army soldiers were killed; five Afghan national soldiers and four U-S soldiers were injured after an accidental detonation during demolition training. The injured soldiers, all received immediate medical care.

///END ACT///

The spokesman said the American soldiers were not seriously injured and were being sent to a military hospital in the U-S controlled Bagram air base north of Kabul.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, American troops are said to have shot dead a suspected Taleban militant attempting to throw grenades at a U-S military convoy in the southern province of Kandahar.

Meanwhile U-S military spokesman Colonel Hilferty has praised neighboring Pakistan for its on-going offensive against suspected al-Qaida militants.

Pakistani forces were believed to have surrounded a group of militants in a mountainous region near the Afghan border. He says the coalition forces have taken steps to prevent the militants from escaping the Pakistani forces.

///HILFERTY ACT///

We have increased surveillance on the border in Paktika and Zabul regions but we have not had any fighting that I know on our side of the border in the last 48-hours. We are encouraged by Pakistan's aggressive stance over there and saddened that they have lost many soldiers. It shows how serious Pakistan is in this fight.

///END ACT///

Some five-thousand Pakistani troops have besieged hundreds of suspected al-Qaida militants, many of them foreigners, and their local supporters in the mountains of Pakistan's tribal region known as South Waziristan. The fighting in the region erupted a week ago and has killed at least 50 people, including a significant number of Pakistani troops. (SIGNED)

NEB/AG/KBK



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