Five killed in clash on Afghanistan-Pakistan border


Two civilians and three militants were killed in an exchange of gunfire after US forces came under attack in southeastern Afghanistan last week, the US military revealed today.

Two US soldiers received superficial wounds in the clash in Gayan district of Paktika province last Wednesday. US military spokesman Major Steve Wollman said three civilians also sustained wounds in the incident near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan.

Maj Wollman said he had no information as to whether the civilians were hit by US or insurgent fire. He said the US troops had returned to duty after treatment.

The United States leads an international force of about 18,000 troops pursuing Taliban and allied Islamic militants in Afghanistan.

Militant-related violence has gradually picked up in recent weeks having tailed off over the winter after the guerrillas failed in their vow to disrupt October presidential elections won by US-backed incumbent Hamid Karzai.

More than 1,000 people have died in Taliban-linked violence since mid-2003, including guerrillas, civilians, aid workers, officials, and foreign and Afghan troops.