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Accident Wreckage Destroyed; Afghan, Coalition Forces Target Taliban

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2007 – In operations throughout Afghanistan in the past two days, coalition forces destroyed the wreckage from a helicopter crash, Afghan and coalition forces conducted an air strike against the Taliban, and a suicide bomber injured seven NATO troops.

Coalition forces completed crash site inspections and recovery and have destroyed the remnants of a helicopter that crashed Feb. 18 in northern Zabul province, near the border with neighboring Ghazni province in eastern Afghanistan, military officials said.

The U.S. Army Chinook helicopter was damaged beyond repair and could not be moved from the crash site, near Highway 1, the main road from Kabul to Kandahar, officials said. Coalition forces destroyed the wreckage late last night to clear the area of large debris and to prevent possible exploitation of the site by terrorist groups.

An investigation based on photographs and other findings collected during clean-up and recovery operations over the last 24 hours will be used to verify the cause of the crash, officials said.

In another operation, Taliban insurgents in western Uruzgan province today engaged Afghan and coalition forces clearing an improvised explosive device. The combined force engaged the insurgents with heavy-weapons fire, causing the Taliban to retreat into a cave. Coalition forces dropped one 2,000-pound bomb on the cave, sealing it off. Due to the precision of the air strike, no damage or injuries to civilians were reported during the operation, officials said.

In the city of Khowst, seven International Security Assistance Force soldiers were wounded today when a suicide bomber detonated his device during the opening ceremony of a new emergency section of the Khost City Hospital.

As the ceremony was about to begin, Afghan national police stopped the bomber, dressed as a medical professional, inside the compound. As he was being questioned, he took off running toward the ceremony.

As police forces chased the suspect, ISAF forces verbally instructed him to stop. When he did not, they engaged with small-arms fire, hitting him several times. An ISAF soldier wrestled him to the ground, restraining him long enough to allow the crowd of people to move safely away. He was able to break free from the bomber prior to the explosion. He sustained only minor injuries from the blast.

Two of the seven injured soldiers have been medically evacuated to Forward Operating Base Salerno, where they are listed in stable condition.

Elsewhere, Afghan National Army and coalition forces discovered a large munitions cache 20 kilometers south of Shindad, in Herat province, yesterday while conducting a combat patrol in the area.

The combined Afghan and coalition patrol discovered the cache, consisting of more than 50 various artillery munitions and fuses that had been set aside for future use. Additionally, several anti-personnel mines were discovered. Afghan and coalition forces destroyed these munitions on site through a controlled detonation.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 76 and International Security Assistance Force news releases.)

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