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Afghan, Coalition Troops Detain Suspects, Seize Weapons

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2006 – Afghan and coalition troops detained several suspects and seized weapons during two March 15 operations in Afghanistan, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials reported.

A joint patrol detained nine armed men in the village of Khwazi in Qalat district, Zabul province after they were seen running into a mosque with weapons. Afghan National Army soldiers ordered the armed men out of the mosque. When they refused to leave, the patrol received permission from the mullah to enter and search the building. The men, who are suspected of being Taliban, were detained without incident. Coalition forces remained outside the mosque as a sign of respect, officials said.

Escorted by the mullah on a search of the mosque, the Afghan soldiers recovered assault rifles, ammunition magazines, a 9 mm pistol with ammunition, hand grenades, blasting caps and wires.

Lt. Col. Frank Sturuk, commander of the coalition's Task Force Warrior, commended the professionalism of the Afghan soldiers. "Taliban who choose to operate in Zabul province can expect to be identified and captured," he said. "Afghan and coalition forces won't allow Zabul to become a sanctuary for Taliban."

In Nangarhar province the same day, Afghan and coalition forces collected four weapon caches and disarmed several anti-personnel mines.

In Jalalabad, provincial coordination center officials turned in 10 mortar rounds to Afghan National Police officers. The cache will remain in Afghan police custody until coalition forces can dispose of it.

Elsewhere in the province, members of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines discovered two improvised explosive devices in a house and five land mines buried around the house in the vicinity of Kandy Bagh village in the Charparhar district.

Afghan police officers and Afghan National Army soldiers, supported by members of the Jalalabad Provincial Reconstruction Team, also discovered a land mine while conducting a combat patrol near the Bati Kot District Center.

"Land mines and other munitions are incredibly dangerous, indiscriminate killers," said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, spokesman the coalition's Combined Joint Task Force 76. "Mines can and do kill innocent people. The emplacement of mines in a village populated with innocent civilians only increases the chance that it will maim -- or worse, kill -- Afghan citizens that are simply going about their day-to-day lives."

By using land mines, insurgents are seeking to terrorize and break the will of the Afghan people, he continued. But, the Afghan people, the Afghan National Security Forces and the coalition will not be deterred from building a democratic society based on the rule of law, he said.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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