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Several Militants Killed in Afghanistan Operation

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2007 – Several militants were killed yesterday during a coalition operation to disrupt foreign-fighter and weapons facilitation networks in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, military officials reported.

In the Garmsir district of Helmand province, coalition forces targeted an individual believed to be associated with weapons smuggling operations in the province. Reports indicate the individual is associated with a Taliban leader responsible for facilitating the weapons and explosives recovered and destroyed during a Nov. 16 coalition operation. The individual is reported to have knowledge of foreign fighter movements throughout the area.

Coalition forces conducted a search of several compounds in the district. While performing a search of one of the compounds, coalition forces killed several armed militants who posed an imminent threat. After hostilities ceased, coalition forces recovered several weapons and explosives, which were removed to prevent their use by extremist forces.

"Coalition forces have taken another significant step in the effort to disrupt the weapons facilitation and foreign-fighter networks in Afghanistan," said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

In other Afghanistan developments, coalition forces positively identified one of the militants killed in a Dec. 2 precision munitions strike in the Musa Qaleh district of Helmand province as former Taliban senior commander Mullah Ikhalas. He is reported to be responsible for the March 5 kidnapping of Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, as well as the journalist’s interpreter and driver. Taliban insurgents executed the interpreter and driver. Reports also indicated Ikhalas was responsible for a number of mortar attacks on coalition bases, as well as several IED attacks.

"The death of Mullah Ikhalas is a significant blow to the Taliban command structure in Afghanistan," Belcher said.

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

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