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Afghan, Coalition Force Foil Attack; Suspects Detained

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2007 – Afghan and coalition forces thwarted an attack in Afghanistan’s Farah province yesterday, 10 suspected Taliban were detained in a separate incident, and the Afghan border police also stopped two suicide bombers near the Pakistan border.

Afghan National Police defended the Bakwa district center in Farah province yesterday following an attack by an unknown number of Taliban fighters.

The Afghan force asked for a show of force to stave off the insurgents, and coalition forces responded with close-air support. The police also requested assistance from the Farah Provincial Reconstruction Team’s security forces to secure the Bakwa district center.

The police held the district center against the Taliban, though eight Afghan police were killed in action. Two were wounded in action and one is reported missing in action. The wounded were evacuated to a hospital.

Seventeen insurgents were reported killed. The insurgents also burned four Afghan police vehicles.

In the Qalat district of Afghanistan’s Zabul province yesterday, coalition forces detained 10 men after raids on multiple compounds.

Officials said credible evidence led the forces to the compounds, where the detainees are suspected of facilitating foreign fighters working for the Taliban. Coalition forces were targeting known Taliban commanders and sub-commanders who organize attacks on coalition forces and peaceful Afghans in the Zabul province.

“These men are acknowledged facilitators for the Taliban in the area,” coalition spokesman Army Maj. Christopher Belcher said. “They have pushed their way into the homes of locals, demanding food and shelter, putting innocent families in danger.”

On May 4, Afghan Border Police guarding a Chamkani area border control point in Paktia province’s Dand Patan district stopped two suspicious men wearing concealed suicide vests when the men failed to stop after ignoring warnings from the police.

After repeatedly warning the bombers to stop, the guards shot and wounded one bomber. The wounded bomber detonated his vest, killing himself. The second suicide bomber evaded the guards during the aftermath of the explosion. There were no injuries to any Afghan civilians and no other shots were fired.

“The actions of the Afghan Border Police prevented the potential deaths of dozens of innocent Afghan civilians,” Belcher said. “Suicide bombers are cowards, and their actions bring disgrace upon their families and their religion.”

Coalition and Afghan national security forces have received intelligence indicating more than 10 Taliban commanders were among those killed during fighting in the village of Parmekan, south of Shindand in Herat province, on April 27 and 29.

One of the senior Taliban commanders reportedly killed was from Helmand province and recently was released with four other Taliban members in exchange for an Italian journalist who was taken hostage two months ago. Two other senior Taliban commanders who died in the battles were known enemies of the Afghan government for the past three years.

Reporting and intelligence suggests that most of the senior Taliban commanders and sub-commanders entered the Zerkoh Valley to reinforce enemy fighters in the village of Parmekan at the conclusion of the first battle against coalition and Afghan National Police forces. They were later killed during the second battle.

Combined Joint Task Force 82 and NATO's International Security Assistance Force are working with the Afghan government to make inquiries into the incident to confirm reports of civilian casualties during the operation, officials said.

“Coalition and Afghan National Army Forces value the life of all Afghan civilians, while Taliban fighters have been known to use Afghan civilians as human shields when attacking coalition and Afghan national security forces,” Belcher said. “The lengthy battle against the Taliban fighters is an indication of the precautions taken by coalition and Afghan National Security Forces to positively identify enemy fighters and prevent the harm to any innocent Afghan civilians who did not vacate the area.”

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)

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