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Afghan Civilians Aid Police, Coalition

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2007 – A tip from citizens led Afghan National Police, along with coalition forces, to a munitions cache 15 kilometers southeast of Chamkani in Afghanistan’s Paktya province yesterday, military officials said.

Afghan village elders informed Chamkani police of a possible improvised explosive device facilitator operating in the area. Police located and searched the suspect’s compound, where they discovered an underground tunnel containing 30 Afghan National Police uniforms, more than 30 improvised explosive devices, 25 mortar rounds, 18 rocket-propelled grenade rounds and four RPG launchers. All serviceable munitions were recovered, but the IED facilitator was not found.

Elsewhere yesterday, Afghan and coalition forces conducted an operation in the Shahjoy and Nawa districts in Zabul province that erupted into a firefight resulting in several al Qaeda and Taliban fighters killed and five militants detained.

Credible intelligence led the forces to two separate compounds suspected of housing several al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, officials said. The joint force approached the compounds and immediately began taking small-arms, machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire from a nearby hillside. A two-hour firefight followed, with Afghan and coalition forces defeating the enemy forces and securing the area.

No civilians were injured in the operation.

“Al Qaeda and Taliban forces ambushed coalition forces to no avail,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman. “Despite the enemy’s best efforts, they didn’t succeed in killing any Afghan or coalition forces.”

A search of the area following the firefight revealed several caches of small arms, automatic weapons, ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades and other weaponry. The weapons were taken to a safe distance and destroyed.

The five detainees will be questioned as to their identities and involvement in militant activities.

Meanwhile, in the Deh Chopan district of Zabul province, Afghan national security and coalition forces on a combat security patrol prevented enemy fighters from attacking a group of Afghans who were gathering for a shura, a type of council meeting.

The combined patrol foiled the imminent attack after identifying more than a dozen enemy fighters carrying high-powered rifles and 82 mm mortar tubes and rounds near the village of Baylogh. In an attempt to escape, the enemy fighters moved north from the village into mountainous terrain. Coalition aircraft were requested and fired munitions at the fleeing enemy fighters, killing several of them.

No Afghan civilians were injured during the engagement.

“Enemy fighters are no match for the skill and determination of Afghan national security and coalition forces,” Belcher said. “We will continue to assist and advise ANSF in order to enhance the Afghan government’s ability to maintain stability in the region.”

During operations June 8, Afghan civilians aided soldiers from the 209th Afghan National Army Corps along with coalition forces in recovering a large munitions cache in the Marmol district of Balkh. The cache included 52 cases of machine-gun ammunition, 35 cases of anti-aircraft ammunition, 92 107 mm rockets and 51 82 mm mortar rounds. The munitions cache was hidden in several small caves along a ridgeline. After conducting an inventory of the cache, ANA soldiers removed all of the serviceable ordnance and the remainder was blown up in place.

Afghan civilians who facilitate the recovery and turn-in of munitions caches are compensated for their efforts through the Small Rewards Program, Belcher said. The SRP was created to encourage and compensate Afghan civilians for their efforts to rid the country of weapons used by insurgent and foreign fighters.

“Senior Afghan elders have taken an active role in improving the security and peace within their villages by facilitating the recovery of munitions caches,” said Belcher. “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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