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Extremists Use Holy Sites For Attacks, Hit Civilian Targets

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2006 – Extremists in Afghanistan attacked coalition forces from a religious site yesterday, and targeted several civilian areas this week, including a bridge, a school and a wedding party, military officials in Afghanistan reported.

Extremists began firing on coalition forces in the village of Nowzad in Helmand province yesterday. The sniper fire came from the direction of a religious shrine. There were no reported injuries to coalition forces or damage to equipment.

In a separate incident in Kandahar province, a supply convoy received small-arms fire from a nearby mosque. While there were no casualties in this incident, this act by the extremists is against the Geneva Convention, officials said.

"To use religious buildings as hiding places and to fire from them is a clear message that the extremists use religion only when it is in their best interests," said Army Col. Thomas Collins, coalition spokesman. "The extremists place no value on human life and continue to threaten the safety of the Afghan people. The extremists today, for example, said they were 'holy warriors.' What kind of 'holy warrior' uses a shrine as a firing position? The extremists abuse the word 'mujahedin.' They are, in fact, 'mufsidun,' corrupt people who seek nothing but inflicting harm on the Afghan people."

In another incident, a homemade bomb was detonated under a bridge yesterday in Wadi Village, Khost province, but there was no damage to the bridge.

Elsewhere, extremists targeted a girls' school near Mehtar Lam in Laghman province on July 17, launching four or five rocket-propelled grenades. There were no reports of students or staff being injured in the attack.

"Afghans are working hard to build a better future for their children by providing an education and opportunities for success," Collins said. "By attacking another school, the extremists show that they only offer destruction and a return to repression for the people of Afghanistan."

On July 16, three extremists who were visiting the compound of Mullah Zeino Bodeen prematurely detonated a homemade bomb while they were working on the device. The explosion killed the mullah and injured the three extremists. The compound is seven kilometers north of Salerno in Khowst province.

An extremist tossed a grenade into a wedding party crowd in Sabari, Khost province, on July 16, killing one and injuring 16. Afghan National Police are searching for the attacker.

"Extremists place no value on human life and continue to threaten the safety of the Afghan people," Collins said.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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