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Detainee Releases 'Strengthening Peace'; Afghan Air Control Center Opens

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2005 – Twenty more detainees were released from coalition detention facilities today as part of the Afghan government's "Takhim-e-Solh" or "Strengthening Peace" program.

Takhim-e-Solh, officials said, is designed to foster peace and reconciliation throughout Afghanistan. The program gives detainees the opportunity to renounce violence and participate peacefully in Afghan civic life.

The detainees reportedly were given a medical examination and their personal effects, and then transferred from coalition custody to the government of Afghanistan.

They subsequently were transported to the program's office in Kabul. There, they were registered into the Takhim-e-Solh program and permitted to return home under the supervision of tribal elders, officials said.

According to coalition officials, 199 detainees have agreed to participate in the "Strengthening Peace" program. The first 57 detainees were released on July 2; another 76 were released on July 9. The remaining 46 detainees will be released in the near future, officials say.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, two civilians working at the Kandahar Airfield were wounded on July 11 in a nearby rocket attack. The two civilians were treated at the base's hospital and transported to Germany for additional treatment. They are in stable condition, officials said.

The attack reportedly occurred around 4:00 a.m., with the launch of four rockets. American forces searched the area from which they believe the rockets were launched; however, they were unable to find the attackers, officials said.

The two injured civilian workers were employed by Kellogg, Brown and Root, an American firm that provides logistics support to U.S. forces stationed overseas. In other news from Afghanistan, government officials celebrated the official opening of the Kabul Air Control Center on July 12.

The facility will help advance indigenous trade and development and thereby help strengthen the under-performing Afghan economy, officials said. "This achievement offers significant potential for the people of Afghanistan," U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Allen G. Peck, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command's Combined Forces Air Component, said.

Peck said Kabul's new Air Control Center will help Afghans "revitalize their military and commercial infrastructure in the 21st century (and thereby) reap the benefits of today's globalized world trade."

The Kabul ACC took control of high-altitude commercial and cargo air flights on May 15; the center began handling similar low-level flights on July 11. By July 15, officials said, the ACC had handled more than 10,000 high-altitude and 500 low-altitude flights.

Each flight, they noted, generates hundreds of dollars of revenue for the government of Afghanistan. This money is used to improve infrastructure, build landing routes, and develop a modern air-traffic-control system.

The July 12 ceremony also marked the advent of a new Instrument Landing System at Kabul International Airport. The ILS allows aircraft to land in all types of dangerous and inclement weather, including snow, fog and ice.

"The coalition is committed to support this achievement and will work to ensure the speedy and effective transfer of airspace control to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," Peck said.

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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