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Coalition, Afghans Kill Taliban Commanders, Dozens More

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2008 – Coalition and Afghan forces killed dozens of militants, including two Taliban commanders, in two days of fighting in Afghanistan, military officials reported.

Today, in the largest-scale battle, coalition troops killed at least 55 militants in the Deh Rawood district of Oruzgan province, in the south-central part of the country, officials said. Coalition forces later identified Taliban commander Sharif Agha and 14 others near a river bed in a remote area of a known insurgent compound, they said, noting that Agha was a known leader in bombings in the Helmand and Oruzgan provinces.

Reports confirmed that the militants were coordinating an attack against coalition forces, officials said.

Coalition and Afghan forces were patrolling the area when they were attacked by a large group of militants with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. The troops responded with small-arms, rocket-propelled grenade, heavy-weapons and supporting fires, killing 55 militants. The troops called in close air support, which killed Agha and others in a precision air strike.

No coalition, Afghan or civilian casualties were reported.

In other reports today from Afghanistan:

-- Afghan and coalition forces killed three insurgents and uncovered a weapons and ammunition cache in the Bala Boluk district in the western province of Farah. As Afghan and coalition helicopters entered the area, they were attacked by insurgents with small-arms and heavy-weapons fire coming from inside a cave. The troops returned fire, killing three insurgents. A search of the area uncovered a cache of several weapons and ammunition. No coalition, Afghan forces or civilian casualties were reported.

-- Coalition and Afghan troops patrolling in the Khas Oruzgan district of Oruzgan province were attacked by militants with small-arms fire. The troops responded with small-arms, heavy-weapons and supporting fires, killing three militants. One Afghan and one coalition servicemember were wounded and were taken to a coalition facility for treatment. They were reported to be in stable condition.

-- Coalition forces identified one of three militants killed in an Oct. 20 air strike in Helmand province as Taliban commander Mullah Ghafar. Ghafar was responsible for conducting ambushes and attacks on checkpoints and coalition convoys in Farah, Nimruz and Helmand provinces, officials said. Coalition forces positively identified Ghafar entering a vehicle and traveling south on a road through Helmand province and called for close-air support. Ghafar was killed and two other militants were wounded by precision air strikes.

In operations yesterday, coalition troops killed six armed militants and detained seven suspects while targeting the Haqqani terrorist group and Taliban leadership in Paktia, Khowst and Ghazni provinces:

-- In Paktia, searched a compound in the Zadran district, targeting a Haqqani commander and financier, known to coordinate and direct terrorist attacks in the region. The force searched the compound without incident, detaining two suspected militants.

-- In the Shamal district of Khowst, a group of armed militants attacked a coalition convoy. Coalition forces returned fire, killing six armed militants and destroying a vehicle. No coalition forces were injured during the engagement.

-- An operation in Ghazni province netted four suspected militants as coalition forces targeted the Taliban leadership in the Waghez district. The targeted Taliban commander is suspected of facilitating and coordinating bombings in the region, officials said. As the force searched the targeted compound, one man attempted to flee. Coalition forces, with the use of a military working dog, were able to track and apprehend the man. Four suspected militants were detained during the operation.

In other news, military officials reported today that coalition forces may have mistakenly killed and injured Afghan National Army soldiers last night in Khowst province near Afghanistan’s eastern border.

As a coalition convoy was returning from a previous operation, troops were involved in multiple engagements in which Afghan soldiers were killed and injured, officials said. Initial reports from troops on the ground indicate that this may be a case of mistaken identity on both sides, they said.

The number of killed and injured has not been made available.

Coalition forces are coordinating with the Afghan government and the Afghan National Army for a joint investigation into this incident, officials said.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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