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U.S. Marines die in Afghan fight


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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Two U.S. Marines were killed during a five-hour firefight with insurgents near the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, a U.S. military spokeswoman told CNN.

In Sunday's fighting, two insurgents were also confirmed dead.

The battle took place in Laghman province, north of the town of Methar Lam.

According to the military, a Marine unit had intelligence about insurgent activity in the area and went to root them out -- in a battle that lasted five hours and included support from U.S. military aircraft.

After the firefight started, two of the Marines were wounded and died of their injuries before they could be flown out.

The fighting came as U.N. head Kofi Annan condemned the bombing of a Kabul Internet cafe on Sunday that killed three people. (Full story)

Annan has expressed concern about increasing violence in Afghanistan, where a U.S.-led campaign toppled the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban militia after the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

In the statement, Annan called upon Afghanistan's government, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan and the coalition forces to take the necessary measures to address the security situation.

About 15,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, battling remnants of the Taliban in the Afghan countryside and searching for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Another 8,000 NATO troops have been assigned to ISAF, the international force that helps support the post-Taliban government of President Hamid Karzai.

U.S. and Afghan troops clashed with guerrillas last week in Zabul province in southeastern Afghanistan in a fight American commanders said killed 40 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, and left 11 U.S. and Afghan troops wounded.

An American soldier died in combat in late April, and five others were killed by land mines in March.

-- Journalist Nick Meo in Kabul contributed to this report


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