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Coalition Forces Quell Rocket Attacks in Afghanistan, Destroy Mortar

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2006 – Coalition forces in Afghanistan quelled rocket attacks along the Afghan-Pakistan border yesterday after extremists hiding in nearby hills fired on them, U.S. military officials said.

“It’s a pretty common occurrence,” said Army 1st Sgt. David Christopher, the senior enlisted soldier for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. “It happens at least every other day. That’s about 200 rockets we’ve taken in the past seven months.”

Foreign fighters, al Qaeda terrorists and common criminals often attempt to cut away at coalition and Afghan efforts to improve governance and rebuilding efforts there, officials said.

“We have seen a fundamental shift in this focus,” said Lt. Col. Chris Toner, commander of Task Force Catamount, which oversees coalition operations in the Paktika province. “We (coalition forces) allow reconstruction projects to continue and the government of Afghanistan to be established here.”

Elsewhere, combat engineers of the Afghan National Army currently are participating in landmine training with U.S. Army engineers. The three-week training course will improve the skills and competence of the Afghan army engineer detachment allowing them to safely remove landmines from their country, officials said. The Afghan army engineers are in their second week of the intensive three-week program, which stresses realistic, hands-on training.

Also, U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan destroyed an unexploded mortar round near a residential area about five kilometers outside of Forward Operating Base Sharona yesterday. Afghan National Army soldiers secured the site and called on U.S. troops to assist in removing the threat.

“We don't want innocent civilians, especially children, to get hurt, so it's important that we get out there as quickly as possible,” said Army 1st Lt. Gerard Torres, a platoon leader with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, N.Y. “Also, if the enemy gets their hands on it, there's a possibility it could be used against civilians or us in the future.”

After retrieving the mortar round, the soldiers placed it in a safe, open area and secured the site while an explosive ordnance disposal team neutralized the explosive.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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