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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
US forces in Afghan gun battle
troops
Allied forces are still searching the region
US special forces have killed five people in a gunfight north of the Afghan city of Kandahar, the Pentagon has said.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said US troops were fired on when they launched a raid on a suspected al-Qaeda or Taleban compound.

It is the first reported encounter between coalition and opposing forces in weeks.

There were no American casualties, Mr Rumsfeld said.

US Marine Captain Steven O'Connor said the special forces team was shot at as it approached the compound on Sunday evening. The team then returned fire.

"Five of those individuals in the compound fired on the US personnel so we returned fire and killed the five and took 32 detainees," he said.

He said the compound at Dehrawd, 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the former Taleban stronghold of Kandahar, was a suspected sanctuary for senior al-Qaeda and Taleban personnel.

Mr Rumsfeld said the coalition sweeps for Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters were continuing and would continue.

Recent operations by US, Canadian and British forces had not come across any resistance, he said, although they had uncovered what he described as "non-trivial" caches of weapons.

See also:

13 May 02 | South Asia
Marines hail Afghan 'success'
30 Apr 02 | South Asia
US-led forces in Afghan firefight
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