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U.S. Airstrike Kills 4 Taliban Militants

May 8, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ U.S. airstrikes on a cave complex near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan on Monday killed four Taliban militants and destroyed a truck loaded with rockets, the U.S. military said.

Military officials in Pakistan said that helicopters fired missiles into Pakistani territory, and officials opened an investigation into whether U.S. aircraft were involved.

But Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a U.S. military spokesman, said the strike was one or two miles inside the Afghan border and that no missiles landed inside Pakistan.

A U.S. military statement said that coalition forces were in direct communication with Pakistani forces on the other side of the border during Monday’s operation.

A senior Pakistani military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said two missiles landed close to the Pakistani town of Angoor Ada in the South Waziristan.

Angoor Ada is about 300 yards from the Afghan border.

The official said three civilians were wounded and that eight people were unaccounted for.

Pakistan is investigating whether U.S. forces were involved and will lodge a protest if a fact-finding team sent to the area uncovers information indicating American involvement, the official said.

Fitzpatrick, however, said no U.S. missiles landed in Pakistan.

``It was close to the border. ... We know where the borders are of the two counties,″ he said, adding that the military has global positioning systems.

Before the strike, a joint team of U.S. ground forces and Afghan soldiers observed individuals loading a truck near the cave with rockets, a military statement said.

A patrol sent to investigate after the strike was fired on by a militant, who was captured, the U.S. military said.

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Associated Press Writers Sadaqat Jan in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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