- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2007

KABUL, Afghanistan — Militants killed an American soldier and a Pakistani yesterday after a meeting held in a Pakistani border town seeking to calm the worst clashes in years between Afghan and Pakistani troops policing a border crossed daily by Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents.

The attack at Teri Mangal produced a rare American casualty inside Pakistan, which is a U.S. ally in the fight against terrorist groups but has uneasy relations with Afghanistan on how to deal with insurgents.

Two American and four Pakistani soldiers were reported wounded, along with two civilians working for the NATO force in Afghanistan whose nationalities were not released.

An Afghan army brigade commander, Gen. Akrem, who attended the meeting, told the Associated Press that gunmen fired on the participants — including about 15 Americans — as they left a school building after the talks.

“From three directions the gunmen opened fire — from the window of a classroom, from a building outside the school and from a hill,” said Gen. Akrem, who like many Afghans uses only one name.

He said that Afghan soldiers at the meeting had been disarmed, but that the American soldiers had weapons and fired back. Pakistan does not allow U.S. troops to operate from its soil, but U.S. military officials in Afghanistan often come for meetings to discuss cooperation.

Pakistani Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad blamed the attack on unidentified “miscreants” — a word often used by Pakistan’s government to describe Islamic militants.

The attack took place on the same day that a Taliban spokesman quoted supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar as confirming the weekend killing of a top militant field commander. He said Mullah Omar also promised that the death of Mullah Dadullah would not undermine the Taliban insurgency.

Qari Yousef Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, told the Associated Press that Mullah Omar and other militant leaders passed condolences to the family of Mullah Dadullah.

Mr. Ahmadi read a statement attributed to Mullah Omar insisting that militants will continue their attacks against “occupying countries.” He said Mullah Dadullah’s death “won’t create problems for the Taliban’s jihad.”

Tensions have been running high between Afghanistan and Pakistan over controlling their 1,510-mile border and stemming the flow of Taliban and al Qaeda militants who stage attacks inside Afghanistan.

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