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U.S. Soldier Dies in Southern Afghan Fight

August 9, 2005

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ One U.S. service member and at least 16 suspected Taliban rebels were killed in fighting in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

Afghan and American forces came under attack during a patrol Monday in southern Zabul province’s Day Chopan district, triggering a fire fight, the military said in a statement. U.S. and coalition aircraft provided air support during the clash.

``We are greatly saddened by the loss of one of our own but are able to take solace in the fact that we are ridding this area of an oppressive and violent enemy,″ the statement quoted U.S. Brig. Gen. James G. Champion as saying.

``Afghan and U.S. forces will continue this search and attack mission to ensure there are no enemy safe havens in this region,″ he said.

The deceased service member’s name was being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

More than 17,000 U.S. forces are in Afghanistan, hunting Taliban and al-Qaida militants still active in the south and east of the country. Violence since March, after a winter lull in the rebellion, has claimed more than 900 lives.

The American casualty follows the deaths of three U.S. service members in eastern Afghanistan last Thursday. Two drowned when their Humvee vehicle slid into a swollen river during a military operation east of the city of Jalalabad; the third was killed by a roadside bomb that exploded near a U.S. military vehicle in the eastern province of Paktika, near the Pakistan border.

More than 170 U.S. service members have died in and around Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in late 2001 to oust the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks.

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