United States and Afghan forces killed 20 Al-Qaeda fighters near the Pakistani border at the weekend, a police chief said on Monday.
Battles erupted on Saturday after militants attacked US troops in Gomal district in the insurgency-hit southeast province of Paktika, provincial police chief Daulat Khan said.
“In Gomal district close to the Pakistani border a group of al-Qaeda attacked American forces,” Khan told AFP by satellite telephone.
“In the subsequent fighting 20 Al-Qaeda members were killed, four were arrested and three Afghan soldiers working with Americans were also killed.”
“According to our information, the Al-Qaeda attacked American forces first.”
The fighting took place around the town of Khand opposite the Pakistani frontier town of Angoor Adda, where Pakistani troops have been flushing out suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters since early October.
Khan said US warplanes and attack helicopters were brought in but he could not say whether they were used.
“There were planes, helicopters and jets flying in the sky but we have no reports of bombing by American planes,” the police chief said.
Paktika is on the frontline of a stepped-up insurgency by regrouped Taliban fighters, who move with ease over the porous 2,450-km frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan where they are believed to be regrouping.
Angoor Adda has been repeatedly identified as an escape route for Taliban and Al-Qaeda remnants fleeing after staging hit-and-run attacks on US troops.