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Afghanistan fighting claims U.S. soldier

An American Special Forces soldier has died from wounds sustained during an operation against Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Friday. He is the third American to die in operations in Afghanistan in less than a week.

The soldier, whose name has not yet been released, was with a combat unit of Americans and Afghan militia when they came under attack on Thursday from a group of 10 to 15 gunmen suspected of being members of the Taliban in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

While U.S. Apache helicopters and A-10 planes blasted the rebels, an Afghan soldier, who was also wounded, and the American were evacuated by helicopter to the U.S. air base just outside the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

The attack comes after three U.S. soldiers were wounded in an ambush on Monday in eastern Afghanistan and after two Americans working for the CIA were killed near the Pakistani border on Oct. 25.

Forty U.S. soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the campaign in October 2001. Four American soldiers were killed in combat in August, one of the most violent months in Afghanistan since the end of the major fighting last year.