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Incidents in Afghanistan Highlight Need for Vigilance

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2002 – Four Afghan children were killed and another three injured Dec. 14 at a training range run by the Afghan national army outside Kabul.

The 5th Battalion of the Afghan national army has been conducting mortar and recoilless-rifle training under the supervision of soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, who are deployed from Fort Carson, Colo.

A Defense Department spokesman said the children, all between the ages of 9 and 14, were running onto the range after firings to collect scrap metal to sell. They apparently found at least one piece of unexploded ordnance, which exploded when they picked it up.

The three wounded children were taken to an International Security and Assistance Force hospital near the Kabul Military Training Center. Two were treated and released. A third was taken to the U.S. Army hospital at Bagram, where he is in stable condition.

Military officials are investigating the incident.

In a separate incident, coalition forces medically evacuated three Afghan civilians from Orgun-e to Forward Operating Base Salerno after a mine strike late Dec. 15, a DoD spokesman said.

One Afghan civilian experienced respiratory problems and another suffered abdominal injuries. Both were considered life- threatening conditions. A third civilian was unconscious and taken to the base for observation.

A military surgical team at the base treated all three and sent one on to the U.S. military hospital at Bagram for further treatment.

Service members at the firebase in Asadabad reported hearing an explosion late Dec. 15. Defense officials reported that upon investigation by base personnel, the explosion appeared to have come from a rocket fired from about five kilometers north of the firebase.

No injuries or damage to the firebase were reported, and officials were planning to further investigate this morning.

U.S. Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division conducted operations northeast of Kandahar Dec. 15 in support of Operation Alamo Sweep, officials said.

The soldiers discovered a total of eight SA-7 Soviet-era surface- to-air missiles, six HN-5 Chinese-made surface-to-air missiles, and one anti-tank guided missile.

The soldiers also detained two individuals during the mission. They took the detainees and weapons to the U.S. base at Kandahar.

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