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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Twelve Afghan 'militants' killed
At least 12 suspected militants have been killed in a clash with US-led coalition troops in south-eastern Afghanistan, the US military says.

The incident happened when militants launched a rocket attack on an American base in Khost province, close to the Pakistani border, the military said.

Coalition forces responded with ground and air attacks.

There has been an increase in militant activity in the south and east of the country after a lull during the winter.


A US military statement said that the militants attacked the Salerno base late on Tuesday night.

The four rockets fired at the base caused no damage and nobody was injured, the statement said.

US forces responded with artillery fire and dropped two 500lb bombs from warplanes.

The governor of Khost province, Mirajudin Patan, told the BBC that the militants died at the Shinki border post. He said it was not clear if they were Afghans or foreigners.


Maj JR Mendoza, of the US forces in Khost, said: "We were able to see the launching point of the rockets and we brought everything we had to bear on it."

Lt Gen David Barno
US general Barno says much of the Taleban is close to collapse

US army Lt Col Robert Cornejo said: "These [militant] rocket attacks are, by their nature, indiscriminate. They attack not only our forces but innocent civilians as well. This seems to be the norm with insurgent rocket attacks."

On Monday, eight suspected Taleban fighters were killed and 16 others captured by Afghan soldiers in Zabul province in southern Afghanistan.

Last week, 12 suspected Taleban fighters were killed by US-led coalition forces in south-eastern Afghanistan. Two coalition soldiers were wounded in the incident.

The head of US forces in Afghanistan, Lt Gen David Barno, said recently that much of the Taleban was close to collapse but that a "desperate" hardcore could launch high-profile attacks.

The US has about 18,000 military personnel in the country hunting the remnants of al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

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