Three American, two Afghan soldiers wounded in clash with militiamen

Tuesday, July 27th 2004, 9:50 am
By: News On 6

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Three U.S. and two Afghan soldiers were wounded Thursday when a regional militia attacked their convoy in a remote province wracked by factional tension, the American military said.

U.S. and Afghan National Army soldiers in the convoy called in warplanes to help ward of attackers who rained fire on them on Thursday afternoon in central Ghor province, spokesman Maj. Rick Peat said. It was unclear if the planes inflicted any casualties.

``Attacks like this will not be tolerated,'' Peat said.

The wounded Americans were trainers embedded in a unit of the new U.S.-trained national army which is supposed to eventually replace the unruly warlord militias who still control much of the country.

All five wounded were listed as stable, including one American who was seriously injured, Peat said.

President Hamid Karzai recently said that factional militias were a bigger threat than holdouts from the Taliban regime ousted by U.S-led forces in 2001.

Regional strongmen have resisted disarmament, prompting election officials to the delay of parliamentary elections to the spring for fear of intimidation. A presidential vote is slated for Oct. 9, more than two months behind the original schedule.

In other violence, police shot a suspected militant Thursday while he was attempting to plant a bomb near Qalat, the capital of insurgency-plagued Zabul province, the military said.

Tension have risen since President Hamid Karzai's decision on Monday to drop a powerful warlord who acts as his deputy and defense minister from his election team.