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School Burning Condemned; IEDS, Weapons Cache Found

American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, May 5, 2006 – The commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76 here condemned today a terrorist attack on a children's school in Laghman province.

Eight people set fire to Katal School in Mehtar Lam on May 2, destroying the principal's office and a storage room filled with supplies, notebooks and Korans.

"This is another example of the Taliban's vision for the future of Afghan children," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, CJTF 76 commander. "Extremists want to deny children and education in the name of religion, and they demonstrate their point by desecrating their most sacred books."

According to a witness, four of the eight criminals carried cans of gasoline into the school, while others toted rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Investigators think an RPG was used to spark the blaze. There were no reported injuries to local citizens.

Elsewhere, a Task Force Tiger element discovered a weapons cache in the Parwan province during a patrol today. The cache contained 88 mortar rounds, eight rockets and three rocket warheads. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the cache on site.

"Recovering and disposing these weapons increases the safety and security of Afghans, and reduces the danger in the area posed by enemies who might use those munitions indiscriminately to cause harm to the Afghan people, Afghan National Security forces or coalition forces," said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, CJTF 76 spokesman.

Also, Afghan security forces and coalition forces found and disarmed three improvised explosive devices in Paktika, Zabul and Kandahar provinces May 2.

Two other IEDs detonated, one in Kunar province and one in Kabul.

A suicide bomber in Kabul killed himself and an innocent civilian, but failed to harm coalition members traveling in the targeted convoy. The Kunar explosion resulted in no injuries.

"The indiscriminate emplacement of IEDs and use of suicide bombs are the desperate tools of a desperate enemy," said Freakley. "These attacks continue to rob innocent civilians of their lives through the blatant and indiscriminant use of these tactics, which serve only to hold back the growth and progress of the Afghan people."

In other news, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials announced today the Afghan government will establish a permanent military presence in Kunar Province on May 7 by creating an Afghan National Army Forward Operating Base.

Coalition and ANA forces have conducted security operations in Kunar before. But the new base marks the first time the Afghan government will establish a military presence in Kunar to further peace and stability efforts reached through Operation Mountain Lion.

(Based on Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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