Up to 80 Taliban Members Believed Killed in Afghanistan Operation
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2006 Coalition forces conducted a significant operation early this morning in the Kandahar region near the village of Azizi that resulted in the deaths of up to 80 Taliban members, military officials here reported.
This was the third such operation in this area within a week in which coalition forces, in support of the Afghan government, have confronted and attacked anti-government forces.
The purpose of this morning's operation was to detain people suspected of terrorist and anti-Afghanistan activities, officials said, but coalition forces encountered organized armed opposition.
Ground and close-air support assets engaged the extremists, who were firing on coalition troops and endangering innocent civilians. The coalition targeted only armed resistance and compounds and buildings known to harbor extremists, officials emphasized, but they added that coalition forces must retain their ability to defend against fire emanating from known enemy positions.
Initial assessments confirmed 20 Taliban killed, with 60 additional Taliban casualties possible but as yet unconfirmed, officials said.
Five Taliban also have been detained and are being questioned regarding their participation in terrorist activities.
A military spokesman said reports of civilian casualties are under investigation. "We have taken this fight directly to the extremists who threaten the future progress of the people of Afghanistan," said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman. "Coalition forces are aware of media reports of civilian casualties and are continuing to review assessments from ground elements in the region."
(From a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news release.)