- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan Guerrillas struck an Afghan army base yesterday in southern Kabul, and 16 persons were killed, including 12 attackers, authorities reported.

The base commander said the attackers were Arabs and Pakistanis, but that could not be confirmed.

It was the most serious battle in the capital in months, and came a day after U.S. troops killed four men who were reported to have opened fire on them in Kunar province, 90 miles to the northeast.

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The two incidents, and another involving U.S. troops on Monday, represented an upsurge in violence during a relatively quiet period eight months since the fall of Afghanistan's Taliban government.

The attack on the Kabul army garrison began about 7 a.m. when the guerrillas, armed with AK-47 semiautomatic rifles, rushed the post in the Bagram-i district, about six miles south of the center of the capital, said the local police commander, Col. Haji Rashid.

Soldiers fought back mainly with rocket-propelled grenades, he said.

The base commander, Bismullah Khan, said that during a three-hour battle his men pursued the attackers as they retreated to a nearby mountain.

He said his forces surrounded the attackers and killed 12.

Three of his men also were killed, Mr. Khan said.

A wounded civilian died en route to a hospital, said Maj. Angela Herbert, a spokeswoman for the International Security Assistance Force, the multinational force that patrols Kabul.

One guerrilla and four soldiers were wounded, the Afghan officials said.

The guerrillas apparently were trapped by the soldiers and shot against a steep lower slope of the mountain, where large bloodstains could be seen after their bodies were taken away.

"They were Arabs and Pakistanis," Mr. Khan said, but he did not say how this had been determined.

Col. Rashid said 20 soldiers and 20 police were involved in the firefight. None of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan was known to have been involved in the battle, although unidentified Americans in civilian clothes were later seen inspecting the site.

On Tuesday, American troops patrolling in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province killed four men in an automobile who tried to fire on them, said Col. Roger King at Bagram, the U.S. military headquarters.

As the car passed the U.S. patrol, a man stood up from the car and tried to shoot an AK-47 at the Americans, but the gun misfired. The U.S. troops then opened fire, Col. King said.

A fifth man in the car also was hit and wounded, he said.

Col. King said the men were believed to be al Qaeda fighters, and a large amount of cash from a country in the region which he did not identify was found in the car.

Provincial intelligence chief Jan Shah said the Americans opened fire on the car when it did not stop to be searched in the Shagai area, near the provincial capital, Asadabad.

Whether they were armed was under investigation, he said.

Haji Rooh Ullah, a local tribal chief, said the four killed were Afghans and former Taliban. He said they were all members of one family, relatives of a former Taliban provincial governor.

On Monday, U.S. troops patrolling the same area killed two men who were said to have fired on them from a hilltop.

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