US forces fought militants on the ground and bombed them from the air in a clash which left 25 rebels dead early today before Afghanistan’s landmark elections, officials said.
The US military said one of its units encountered a group of some 60 militants near a bazaar in the Char Cheno district of troubled Uruzgan province.
After a brief skirmish, the rebels retreated toward a compound where they were targeted with airstrikes called in to support the American ground troops, military officials said.
Fire from an AC-130 gunship and two 2,000-pound bombs dropped from a bomber “destroyed the targets,” spokesman Major Mark McCann said.
While no Americans were reported hurt and the military had no information on rebel casualties, Uruzgan Governor Jan Mohammed Khan said 25 militants travelling in three vehicles were killed.
It was unclear whether the rebels had been planning an attack on the country’s first ever presidential election. The vote went ahead without major incident, though rivals to interim leader Hamid Karzai claimed the vote was fraudulent.
Some 100,000 Afghan, US and Nato security forces were on duty for the vote, which remnants of the Taliban had threatened to attack.
“I think we’re very pleased with security situation,” McCann said. “The elections went off pretty well.”