KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) _ U.S. forces in Afghanistan fought militants on the ground and aircraft bombed them in a clash that left 25 rebels dead early Saturday before the nation's landmark elections, officials said.
The U.S. military said one of its American units encountered about 60 militants near a bazaar in the Char Cheno district of troubled Uruzgan province. After a brief skirmish, the rebels retreated toward a compound, which the military then targeted with airstrikes.
Fire from an AC-130 gunship and two 2,000-pound bombs ``destroyed the targets,'' spokesman Maj. Mark McCann said.
No American casualties were reported. Uruzgan Gov. Jan Mohammed Khan said 25 militants traveling in three vehicles were killed.
It was unclear whether the rebels were moving toward an attack on the country's first presidential election ever. Some 100,000 Afghan, U.S. and NATO security forces were on duty for the vote, which remnants of the Taliban had threatened to attack.
The vote went ahead without major incident, though rivals to interim leader Hamid Karzai claimed the vote was fraudulent.
``I think we're very pleased with security situation,'' McCann said. ``The elections went off pretty well.''