KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) _ Over 100 Afghan soldiers raided a rebel hide out in a remote mountainous region in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, sparking a shootout that left three suspected Taliban dead, an Afghan commander said.

Gen. Atta Mohammed, a commander of Afghan special forces, said his soldiers captured a Taliban fighter, though scores of others managed to escape after three hours of fighting in the district of Shah Wali Kot, about 30 miles northeast of Kandahar.

He said troops were tracking the fleeing militants by following their footprints.

``We hope they will be captured soon,'' Mohammed told The Associated Press by satellite phone.

Kandahar is the hometown of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, whose government was ousted in the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Armed clashes between Taliban fighters and Afghan and U.S.-led forces are common in a broad swath of the country along the Pakistan border.

In Kunar province, some 370 miles further northeast, about a dozen guerrillas attacked guard posts near a coalition base with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms Wednesday, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Coalition troops returned fire, the statement said.

This week, Afghan forces claimed they killed a top Taliban commander, Hafiz Abdul Rahim, along with 14 other fighters near Kandahar. Rahim, a former Taliban police chief, was suspected of leading several deadly attacks against Afghan soldiers in Afghanistan.