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Forces Conduct Cordon, Search Operation in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2002 – U.S. forces conducted a "cordon and search" operation in Afghanistan, and forces detained three suspected al Qaeda fighters, Defense Department officials said Aug. 12.

Over the weekend, U.S special operations forces and members of the 82nd Airborne Division's Task Force Panther conducted the cordon and search operation in Paktika province. The province, on the border with Pakistan, was a stronghold of the Taliban. U.S. forces have conducted a number of operations in the region.

Beginning Saturday morning, personnel cordoned off the area in the vicinity of Malaksay, north of the town of Shkin. U.S. forces then searched the area for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, intelligence about the Taliban and al Qaeda, and arms caches.

U.S. forces discovered a cache of 50 rocket-propelled grenades. U.S. officials in Afghanistan said there was no fighting during the operation nor was anyone detained.

On Saturday, U.S. special operations forces personnel detained three suspected al Qaeda fighters near the border town of Khowst. The special operators took the three to U.S. facilities at Bagram air base, where they are being questioned. U.S. forces also discovered a cache of arms in this area. The cache includes 200 feet of detonation cord, 10 high explosive charges and 82 mortar rounds.

Defense officials announced today that Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher James Speer died Aug. 7 of wounds he received in Afghanistan July 27. Speer died at the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Four other soldiers were wounded in the firefight near Khowst. Two were treated at the U.S. medical facility in Bagram and were released. Two others were also transported to Germany and are recovering from their injuries.

Speer, 28, was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

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