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Combat Operation Near Spin Boldak Continues

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2003 – Combat operations near Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, continued into the third day, although U.S. officials said the intensity is winding down.

U.S. Army Special Forces and Afghan militia captured an enemy gunman Jan. 27 after a shootout. The detainee said 80 or more men were holed up in the mountains to the north. Army Apache helicopters drew fire on a reconnaissance mission.

Special Forces soldiers, elements of the 82nd Airborne Division and members of the Afghan national army, about 200 to 250 troops in all, have engaged the enemy on the ground while Air Force B-52 and B-1 bombers, F-16 fighters and AC-130 gunships have flown air support.

The enemy occupied tunnels and caves in an area that once was a Taliban stronghold. The town of Spin Boldak is southeast of Kandahar and on the Afghan border with Pakistan.

U.S. officials said 18 enemy combatants were killed and two men were detained. They said there still are no reports of U.S. casualties.

On Jan. 28, coalition forces searched 30 caves in the area and uncovered a number of arms caches. The caches were destroyed in place.

On Jan. 29, soldiers cleared 14 more caves and sealed up another, officials said. "They found proof of use in many of the caves -- cooking oil, cigarettes and cigarette butts," said Army Col. Roger King, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force 180. "They also found several more caches of weapons and pack animals."

Operations will continue in the area until all caves are searched, King said.

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