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U.S. Soldiers Find Afghan Rocket Site

December 27, 2002

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) _ U.S. soldiers detained nine men after locating a site apparently used for rocket attacks on American bases in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. command at Bagram Air Base said Friday.

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division made the discovery while on patrol near Khost, a city near the Pakistan border, the military said in a statement.

The statement did not say when the arrests took place.

Rockets _ usually crude, Chinese-made weapons _ have been fired at a several small U.S. bases in the area, usually without doing much damage.

``The patrol pursued and detained four individuals, two of whom were armed,″ the statement said. ``In a follow-up search operation, five more suspects were detained, and weapons and munitions were confiscated.″

Forces loyal to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network and the ousted Taliban regime are believed to be operating in Afghanistan’s mountainous eastern region and in the border areas with Pakistan.

During a similar patrol last week, attackers shot to death U.S. paratrooper Sgt. Steven Checo. They later fired rockets at Shkhin, a small town in Paktika province.

Bagram Air Base is the headquarters for about 8,000 American troops deployed across the mountainous nation, mostly along the eastern border.

U.S. troops also carried out medical assistance programs this week, according to the statement.

One 6-year-old Afghan boy was taken to a military hospital at Bagram for treatment of severe burns to his hand suffered Thursday. The boy is listed in stable condition. The statement did not say how he received the injury.

Another 106 Afghan civilians were treated, mainly for eye and respiratory diseases, by U.S. military medical teams in the southern city of Kandahar.

Update hourly