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U.S. Troops Engage in Afghan Firefight

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2002 – A small number of U.S. troops at the airfield at Khost, Afghanistan, engaged in a firefight last night after enemy fighters attacked with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire, Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke reported this morning.

An AC-130 gunship was used to oppose the attackers, she said. One U.S. soldier received a gunshot wound to an arm, but the injury was not considered life threatening. She said more details on the fight are forthcoming.

"This is a very clear example of what we've said all along -- that there would be firefights, there would be pockets of resistance, that it's a dangerous place and these things will happen," Clarke remarked. "We've expected it."

Afghan forces turned over 12 detainees from western Afghanistan to U.S. control, she said. In the past week or so, she noted, U.S. forces took custody of another 31 detainees in the Kandahar area. Detainees under U.S. control there and elsewhere is about 550.

Clarke said U.S. defense officials are soon expected to announce details on conducting military commissions.

"An extraordinary amount of effort has gone into developing the system," she said. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, she noted, has devoted "a whole lot of hours himself into working through the issues, asking the questions, and asking a variety of people from many walks of life, 'What if we do it this way? What if we did it that way? What are the implications?'"

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