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News Briefs

U.S., Allied Troops Attack Group Of Afghan Militants


BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- In the largest battle of the Afghan war since last spring, U.S. troops and allied forces surrounded and pummeled a group of about 80 Afghan militants on a mountainside in southeastern Afghanistan, killing at least 18 guerrillas, military officials said Tuesday.

The battle, near the Afghan-Pakistan border in southern Kandahar province, was fought through Monday night and continued sporadically Tuesday north of the town of Spin Boldak. According to U.S. military spokesman Col. Roger King, the battle involved the largest concentration of hostile forces that coalition forces have detected in the past nine months.

No American casualties were reported, he said.

King said that based on intelligence and information from one captured fighter, the group is believed to be associated with former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar--who has announced his intention of joining al-Qaida and Taliban forces to fight against the American presence in Afghanistan. King said the Afghans were taken by surprise and attacked aggressively.

Results of AIDS Treatment In South Africa


Confronting AIDS is a monstrous challenge in a country with about 5 million infected people, and with only about 600 of them receiving free antiretroviral drugs from nonprofit groups. About 20,000 more pay for antiretrovirals through private insurers.

More than half the country’s free antiretrovirals are distributed here in the gritty township of Khayelitsha, at the Doctors Without Borders clinic that hosted former president Nelson Mandela’s visit last month.

The clinic began giving away the “AIDS cocktail” -- three antiretrovirals taken in combination -- in May 2001, and like a much larger antiretroviral program in Botswana, the therapy yielded immediate results.

About 90 percent of the patients have improved dramatically. More than 80 patients would have been expected to die within a year without treatment; only eight did.

Marines Open Desert Supply Depot in Kuwait


At a vast desert supply depot with columns of armored vehicles stretching across the horizon, newly arrived troops from the 1st Marine Division on Tuesday began drawing the gear they would use if ordered to invade Iraq.

For the past week, about 500 Marine logistics specialists have worked around the clock, unloading, repairing and assembling enough equipment to supply a division of 17,000 for a monthlong operation. This phase of the U.S. military buildup in Kuwait, although unglamorous, is among the most important.

Hundreds of Marines, many of whom arrived in Kuwait just three days ago, spent the day testing their gear and taking inventory to make sure everything they’ll need is in place. They’re joining several thousand Marines already in Kuwait from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The Marines have staged thousands of tons of equipment in areas where it can be more quickly transported to deploying troops.