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Afghan, U.S. Soldiers Find Weapons Cache; Escapee Report Misleading

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2005 – Afghan National Army soldiers and U.S. paratroopers with 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), discovered a large cache of weapons, ammunition, mines and documents Nov. 1 in southern Ghazni, in east-central Afghanistan, U.S. military officials reported today.

The cache consisted of a heavy machine gun, light machine guns, assault rifles, recoilless rifles, mortar systems with rounds, thousands of rounds of small-arms and light-machine-gun ammunition, 135 rocket-propelled grenades, two crates of fragmentation grenades, and improvised explosive device-making materials, officials said. The items were taken to a nearby forward operating base and destroyed.

"This find is significant because the removal of this cache denies the enemy the capability to attack the government of Afghanistan and kill innocent Afghan civilians," Army Col. Patrick Donahue, commander of Regional Command East, said.

Elsewhere, Afghan National Police in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces turned in two other weapons caches to coalition forces on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, officials said. Together, the caches consisted of about 85 rockets or rocket components, 18 mortar rounds, small-arms ammunition, and artillery rounds.

An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the Oct. 31 cache. The same will happen to the other at a later date, officials said.

"The turn-in of these caches is a clear indication that the Afghan people are tired of war and do not support the enemy's efforts to stymie the progress being made by the Afghanistan government," Donahue said.

In other news from Afghanistan, U.S. military officials there today released a statement designed to clarify recent news reports from the country.

A terrorist described as a top deputy to Osama bin Laden escaped from a U.S. military detention facility on Bagram Air Base in July, and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials announced the escape at the time, according to the statement. However, they pointed out, this information is making headlines again because it has come up in the court-martial trial of a U.S. soldier accused of abusing detainees.

"These reports may lead their audience to believe the escape happened recently," the statement read.

"This information is being aired at the court-martial trial of Army Sgt. Alan J. Driver who is charged with counts of maltreatment of detainees under his charge," CFCA spokesman Army Col. Jim Yonts. "The reporting in these articles gives the audience the illusion that the escape and subsequent increased security precautions just happened.

"Security procedures were bolstered immediately after the escape, Yonts added.

He said the search for the terrorist leader and three other escaped detainees continues with the cooperation and support from the Afghanistan government.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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