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U.S., Coalition Forces Respond to Enemy Fire

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2002 – Coalition bases continue to receive sporadic fire from Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers, DoD officials said Nov. 4.

Near Shkin, three rocket-propelled grenades were fired on the coalition base. Commanders alerted the local quick reaction force, and soldiers discovered the launching site about six kilometers inside the Afghan border. Defense officials noted the force did not find any suspects.

In another incident, someone fired two rockets at the coalition firebase near Orgun-e. The rockets landed about one kilometer from the base. Again, a quick reaction force went to the area, but did not find any suspects, officials said. The QRF did, however, discover numerous arms, which they confiscated and destroyed.

Near Khowst, coalition forces swept the area and confiscated arms, records and Taliban literature. Soldiers also took six Afghans to another forward-operating base for questioning. The cordon-and-search operation is part of Alamo Sweep. U.S. Central Command officials called Alamo Sweep "the primary focus of conventional operations in eastern Afghanistan." Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division make up the majority of the U.S. contribution to the operation.

Officials caution that mines continue to be a danger in Afghanistan. In one recent incident, a small Afghan child brought a land mine to his home, where it exploded and wounded the child and his parents. U.S. officials evacuated the family and treated them at the U.S. forces hospital at Bagram air base. Two are in stable condition and one is in serious condition.

More than 23 years of war has made Afghanistan into one of the most heavily mined countries on Earth. "Almost as soon as we began operations in Afghanistan, we started warning the population of the danger of mines," said a Central Command spokesman. U.S. and coalition planes have dropped leaflets and local radio stations play public service announcements on the dangers of mines.

Coalition partners such as Spain, Romania and Norway have worked with U.S. soldiers and non-governmental agencies from around the world to rid the country of these weapons. But U.N. officials said millions of these weapons have been emplaced, and it will probably take deminers years to render even a portion of the country safe. The first U.N. humanitarian demining team operated in Afghanistan in 1990. Today, the program employs some 3,000 Afghan de-miners on 48 clearance crews, along with 16 mine-awareness teams

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