Canadian Killed, Dozens of Taliban Killed, Captured in Afghan Battle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2006 One Canadian army officer was killed and three Afghan National Army soldiers were wounded in an operation yesterday in the Panjway district of Afghanistan's Kandahar province. Eighteen Taliban extremists were killed and 26 captured in the operation.
A combined joint task force of Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army and Canadian forces from Task Force Orion conducted the intelligence-based combat operation, U.S. officials said.
The operation, which targeted extremists who had infiltrated a series of villages in Panjway, began before dawn and lasted well into the night.
"The combined force conducted a successful, complex fight synchronizing air and ground forces to bring the fight to the enemy," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, said. "This well-organized, cooperative engagement was exactly the operation needed to restore security to Panjway, where extremists have been intimidating and threatening the people."
In a statement, U.S. officials said the defeat of the enemy in Panjway is a direct result of the skill, valor and commitment of Canadian and Afghan national security forces. Panjway residents fully supported the operation, encouraging coalition forces to continue the fight to drive the enemy out of their district, officials said in the statement.
"Canadian and Afghan security personnel deployed into the area (Panjway) on the morning of May 17 to conduct sweeps through the areas suspected of harboring enemy forces," Canadian Brig. Gen. David Fraser, commander of Multi-National Brigade South, said. "During the sweeps, Afghan and Canadian troops came into contact with insurgents, those who daily threaten the lives and the livelihood of the local Afghan people."
Canadian forces have identified the officer killed as Capt. Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard, of the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.
"Captain Goddard's death was the price today of ensuring that tens of thousands of men, women and children of Afghanistan can have hope that their future will be brighter," Fraser added. "We will not forget her sacrifice."
An unspecified number of Afghan soldiers suffered non-life threatening wounds and are currently receiving treatment, U.S. officials said.
Freakley said the successful operation demonstrates the resolve of coalition and Afghan forces and their commitment to the security and prosperity of the Afghan people.
"This dynamic, complex operation demonstrates that insurgents do not operate freely in southern Afghanistan and that Canadian and Afghan national security forces are fully capable of defeating this enemy wherever they operate," Freakley said. "No sanctuary is too formidable or too remote. These extremists will be defeated at every encounter. Their aims and goals are in direct contrast to the growth and progress of the nation of Afghanistan and the Afghan people will continue to reject their presence."
In other news from Afghanistan, coalition forces conducted a successful operation early this morning that resulted in the confirmed deaths of seven Taliban members near the village of Azizi, in Afghanistan's Kandahar region.
The operation was intended to detain individuals suspected of terrorist and anti-Afghanistan activities.
"These individuals are active members of the Taliban network and have conducted attacks against Coalition and Afghan forces," a U.S. military official said in a statement. "Additionally, they have conducted attacks against Afghan government officials and are suspected of improvised explosive device construction and of training other enemy fighters."
During the course of the operation, Coalition forces killed seven members of the Taliban. An additional 15 to 20 others may have been killed in an associated air strike, officials said.
One coalition member was wounded.
Three of six Taliban-associated compounds may have been destroyed by air strikes as part of the operation, U.S. officials said.
"Effective operations such as these further increase the security and stability of Afghanistan," U.S. Army Col. Thomas Collins, a coalition spokesman, said. "The Afghan and coalition forces will not tolerate attacks against the innocent people of Afghanistan and will continue to pursue terrorists and terrorist facilitators relentlessly until they are brought to justice."
(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)