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Taliban Militants Detained; Afghans Report Weapons Cache

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2007 – Coalition forces detained five suspected Taliban militants in Zabul province, Afghanistan, today, and Afghan civilians led coalition and Afghan security forces to a weapons cache May 5 in Paktia province, military officials reported.

Coalition forces detained the five men after a raid on a compound in the Qalat district of the Zabul province early this morning. Credible evidence led the forces to the compound, where the suspected militants had a man positioned on the roof with a two-way radio, officials said. Coalition forces entered the compound, and two men fled the scene. The forces took them into custody.

The detainees are suspected of fighting and working for militants; one is an admitted Taliban extremist, officials said. Coalition forces inventoried the house, finding two AK-47 assault rifles, an RPK machine gun and two fragmentation grenades. The weapons were removed to a safe place and destroyed.

“Taliban fighters are working against the interest of peaceful Afghans, and their attempts to bring down the elected government will fail,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman.

Elsewhere, local Afghan civilians reported the location of a munitions cache found in the Jaji district of Paktia province May 5 to Afghan National Police and coalition forces operating in the province. The recovered cache consisted of an assortment of 75 mm recoilless rounds, 107 mm rockets, land mines, hand grenades, and cases of anti-aircraft and heavy machine gun ammunition.

Just north in Nangarhar province, 32 munitions caches have been reported and recovered during the past five weeks to Afghan national security forces and coalition soldiers operating in the Jalalabad area, officials said. Afghan civilians in Nangarhar have facilitated the removal of significant munitions caches from every district bordering Pakistan and nearly all 26 districts within the province.

Afghan civilians who facilitate the recovery and turn-in of munitions caches are compensated for their efforts through the Small Rewards Program. The SRP was created to encourage and compensate Afghan civilians for their efforts to rid the country of weapons used by extremist and foreign fighters. Hundreds of 82 mm mortar rounds, 82 mm recoilless and rocket-propelled-grenade rounds and considerable amounts of various explosives have been recovered since April 1.

“Senior Afghan elders have taken an active role in improving the security and peace within their villages by facilitating the recovery of munitions caches,” Belcher said. “Their involvement with Afghan national security and coalition forces is crucial to rid the Afghan government of its enemies.”

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

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