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U.S. forces in Afghanistan see rise in attacks since war

Two rockets hit Kabul, one near peacekeeping command. No one is hurt.

©Associated Press

March 31, 2003

BAGRAM, Afghanistan -- An ambush that killed two American servicemen is a sign rebel activity is increasing in Afghanistan after the start of the war in Iraq, an Army spokesman said Sunday.

Col. Roger King said the military was considering new offensives in the area of southern Afghanistan where the ambush occurred.

"This helps paint the picture for future operations," King said, adding the attack "points out that it's a challenge to pick out enemy forces that are made up of local Afghans."

Late Sunday, a rocket hit the headquarters of the international peacekeeping force that patrols Kabul, the Afghan capital. Another hit the Pul-e-Charkhi area, on the eastern edge of the capital. No one was hurt in either attack.

Afghan authorities say Taliban, their al-Qaida allies and forces loyal to a renegade rebel commander are behind the killings and the rocket attacks.

Saturday's attack in the southern province of Helmand was the first fatal encounter for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since December.

A Special Forces soldier and an airman were killed and another Special Forces trooper wounded when their four-vehicle convoy was ambushed on a reconnaissance patrol. Three Afghan soldiers were wounded. The Pentagon on Sunday identified the airman as Staff Sgt. Jacob L. Frazier, 24, of St. Charles, Ill.

The attack occurred two days after an international Red Cross worker was killed in neighboring Kandahar province. The region is the birthplace of the hardline Taliban regime driven from power by American-led forces in late 2001.

King said it was not clear whether the attacks were connected. U.S. forces and Afghan militia have been conducting sweeps in Kandahar province, and such offensives often spur rebel activity.

"If we take aggressive, offensive actions, oftentimes we get a reaction from the enemy forces," King said.

Hundreds of coalition forces swept into the Helmand Valley last month for Operation Viper, and patrols of the perilous area continue. The ambush "probably will point to the fact that we need to conduct more operations in the area," King said.

The attack raised to 28 the number of combat deaths among the coalition forces in Afghanistan, King said. Thirty-four have died in accidents or from other causes.

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