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Coalition Denies Taliban Claim of Killing, Capturing Troops

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2004 – A Taliban claim that anti-coalition militia in Afghanistan had killed five U.S. soldiers and captured three others in an attack in Tarin Kot is "absolutely false," a spokesman for Combined Forces Command Afghanistan said today at news conference in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

"In fact, the (Afghan National Army), assisted by coalition forces, remain committed to building a secure, stable environment in the Oruzgan province and throughout Afghanistan," said Army Maj. Scott Nelson. "These continued Taliban attempts to mislead the public and disrupt the democratic process in Afghanistan will not succeed."

The ANA and the Afghan National Police are maintaining peace and order in Herat, where President Hamid Karzai's recent appointment of the Herat province's governor as the country's minister of mines and industry had caused unrest.

"The ANP is enforcing a curfew, the situation remains under control, and there have been no recent disturbances," Nelson said. "The new governor, assisted by the ANP and ANA, will ensure continued calm so citizens of Herat receive public services and experience the security and stability that existed before this brief period of unrest."

Nelson said the restoration of stability in Herat indicates that the right conditions exist for reconciliation. "Events in Herat, and evidence that the Taliban is unraveling (and) show the emergence of an increasingly secure environment that welcomes progress," he said. "More and more citizens are returning to their homes and rebuilding their lives. Looking around Afghanistan, much has changed for the better since the Taliban fell."

The coalition is activating two new provincial reconstruction teams one each in Farah and Tarin Kowt Nelson said. PRTs help local governments in establishing security and infrastructure.

In other news, four rockets were launched Sept. 13 into a village near a coalition compound in Asadabad, Nelson said. No injuries were reported.

An ANA security patrol, assisted by coalition forces, discovered a weapons cache northeast of Orgun-E, Nelson reported. The cache contained 43 cans of 12.7 and 14.5 mm anti-aircraft ammunition, 23 mortar rounds, 500 14.5 mm rounds, four rocket-propelled grenade boosters, six anti-tank mines, two hand grenades, and 500 rounds of armored personnel carrier machine-gun ammunition.

One white phosphorous mortar round was detonated in place, and the rest of the weapons were confiscated and moved to a secure location, Nelson said.

Coalition forces conducting a presence patrol west of Sharana also discovered a weapons cache, Nelson said. The cache contained an anti-tank mine, 53 mortar rounds, nine RPGs, two 12.7 and 14.5 mm anti-aircraft ammunition barrels.

A coalition news release today reported that two U.S. civilian dog handlers received minor injuries today when an improvised explosive device struck their vehicle around 2 p.m. in Oruzgan province. They were taken to a nearby medical facility and treated for their minor wounds, the release said.

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