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Taliban Leader Killed in Air Strike; Two Militants Detained

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2007 – Coalition aircraft killed a key northeastern Taliban leader during an air strike April 20 in the Alishang district of Laghman province, Afghanistan, military officials reported.

Fateh Gul Haqparast, an important militant organizer and leader with extensive ties to the Hekmatyar Gulbuddin network and Taliban extremists, died during the U.S. Air Force strikes, officials said.

Coalition sources described Haqparast as a significant regional Taliban leader involved in assassinations, improvised-explosive-device attacks and assaults on Afghan and coalition facilities in Laghman and Kapisa provinces. The militant leader orchestrated attacks against the Mehtar Lam Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Alishang District Center, as well as bombings of civilian and military targets.

Provincial political leaders said the strike will enhance regional security. “The killing of this person is very good for the people of Laghman and for progress in our province,” said Gov. Gulab Mangal. “This will help Laghman become a better place.”

“This strike marks the sixth senior insurgent leader killed or captured in Laghman province in the past three months,” added Army Maj. Stephen Grabski, operations officer for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. “The people of Laghman are clearly showing their intolerance for these insurgents through their actions in support of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Coalition forces will continue to support their actions to build their province and reduce enemy activity.”

In other news from Afghanistan, Afghan and coalition forces conducting an operation early today detained two suspected militants in the Paktika province. Credible information led the combined force to the compound suspected of sheltering weapons smugglers working for the Haqqani network. The smuggled weapons are suspected of being used against coalition forces and peaceful Afghans in the area.

During the operation, one inhabitant fled the compound and was soon apprehended by combined forces unharmed. The rest of the inhabitants complied with a request for peaceful surrender, and were not harmed.

(Compiled from Regional Command East and Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)

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