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'Lightning Resolve' to Protect Afghan Election Process

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2004 – Coalition forces have launched Operation Lightning Resolve in Afghanistan to protect the country's electoral process, a senior military spokesman announced at a Pentagon news conference today.

Army Brig. Gen. David Rodriquez said the operation is similar to operation Mountain Storm, which was designed to destroy terrorist organizations and their infrastructure while continuing to focus on national stability and support in Afghanistan's south, southeast, and eastern regions.

"The objective of this mission is to interdict al Qaeda and Taliban forces who are trying to prevent the Afghan national elections from taking place in the coming months," Rodriguez said. The general told reporters the operation does not include plans to increase the troop strength in Afghanistan.

Rodriquez also briefed reporters on events today in Iraq. A car bomb exploded at a checkpoint outside the international zone in Baghdad, he said, killing several Iraqi civilians and National Guard members and injuring more than a dozen Iraqis. He said initial reports indicate the explosion was the product of a 1,000-pound explosive device.

Also, a motorcade taking the governor of Iraq's Ninewah province to Baghdad was attacked, and the governor later died at a hospital, Rodriguez said.

Anti-Iraqi forces attacked a cigarette filter plant in Baghdad with two mortar rounds at about 2:30 this morning, a Multinational Force Iraq news release reported. Iraqi firefighters responded, and a Task Force Baghdad patrol was sent to investigate the damage. There were no reports of injuries, but the plant, which employs about 1,200 people, is closed until the building is repaired, the news release said.

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