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Afghans, Coalition Work to Rid Afghanistan of Weapons

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2005 – Following tips from police and local citizens, U.S. and coalition forces recovered several caches of weapons in Afghanistan this week.

According to Brig. Gen. James Champion, deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, 43 percent of all weapon caches are turned in by Afghans.

On March 17, Afghan police and coalition forces recovered an anti-personnel mine, a hand grenade and a rocket near Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khowst province. Also in Khowst province, coalition forces found three AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition and 8,000 Pakistani rupees, worth roughly $136.

A search by coalition forces north of Kandahar netted a cache of weapons, money and materials to build homemade bombs. Troops also recovered 25 rocket-propelled grenades, three tank rounds, three mortar rounds and roughly 100,000 Afghani notes worth about $2,300.

In one cache seizure near Gardez in Paktya province, troops secured several rifles, pistols, 1,500 rounds of ammunition and two hand grenades. Another seizure, also near Gardez, turned up a 60 mm mortar, five 82 mm mortars and two 60 mm projectiles. coalition forces found another 33 RPGs and 30 RPG boosters nearby.

In Ghazni province, troops searching an Afghan compound found nine recoilless rifle rounds, 18 RPGs, two boxes of anti-aircraft rounds and 200 AK-47 rounds of ammunition loaded in magazines.

"Every time an Afghan turns over munitions, that's one more Afghan on the side of peace rather than violence," Champion said. "Every bomb we find is one less the enemy can use against the Afghan people and coalition forces."

Ordnance disposal crews secured all the caches.

In other activities, coalition forces and Afghan police east of Gardez discovered and defused an improvised explosive device, built from a rocket, on March 17. In a search north of Kandahar, coalition forces recovered an assortment of materials associated with the construction of IEDs.

According to IED Task Force Afghanistan commander Lt. Col. Jack Knox, 90 percent of the IEDs discovered are reported by Afghan police, civilians and members of the military. Knox said the number of IEDs turned in by Afghans is up by 30 percent since last summer.

"Incidents like these, turning in IEDs and weapon caches, are a measure of how the Afghan people have supported the central government since the presidential election," he said. It also "shows that the insurgents are isolated," he added.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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