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Taliban Militants Killed, Captured; Afghan Villagers Detain Fighters

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2007 – Afghan and coalition forces killed a militant and detained two others at a compound in Afghanistan’s Helmand province during an operation yesterday, U.S. military officials reported.

As the forces advanced on the compound, they took fire from inside. They returned fire, killing one militant. The others surrendered and were not harmed, officials said.

A search of the compound revealed a cache of several rocket-propelled grenades, pressure plates and other bomb-making materials. The weapons cache was removed to a safe distance and destroyed in place, officials said.

Credible information led the combined force to the compound in connection with Taliban activity, officials added.

Afghan and coalition forces conducted another operation today, detaining an adult male at a compound in Khowst province. Intelligence reports indicated the detainee was attempting to facilitate a plan involving militants posing as Afghan National Army soldiers to attack coalition forces and Afghan officials.

“It’s obvious how desperate these extremists have become,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman. “They’ve taken to impersonating legitimate officials to conduct their vicious attacks.”

No shots were fired and there were no injuries reported as a result of the operation, officials said.

In other news, Afghan villagers in Helmand province reported to the area’s governor that they detained 15 Taliban fighters on May 11.

Local tribal elders have become angered with Taliban enemy fighters due to the aftermath of the battle between joint Afghan and coalition forces and enemy fighters on May 8, U.S. officials said.

The tribal elders also reported they feared retaliation from Taliban fighters in the north. The local governor requested Afghan national and coalition forces provide additional security for the village and assist the villagers in defending themselves against Taliban retaliatory attacks, officials said.

“Afghan civilians are exhausted by the death and destruction Taliban fighters represent and have risen up against the enemy,” said Belcher. “With the support of the local Afghans, Afghan national security forces and coalition elements will rid the area of enemy fighters.”

In addition, Afghan and coalition forces detained six adult males at a compound in Afghanistan’s Khowst province during an operation May 11.

Credible intelligence led the combined force to the compound suspected of housing an assassin cell planning to target Afghan government officials and Afghan police officials. Two detainees were positively identified as being part of the assassination cell, officials said.

The combined force also discovered several rifles at the compound. The firearms were removed and destroyed.

Also on May 11, Afghan national police and coalition forces patrolling north of the Sangin district center identified and engaged Taliban fighters near Highway 611.

The combined patrol came to the aid of another coalition patrol under attack by Taliban fighters. They observed Taliban reinforcements preparing a second ambush site and requested close-air support to destroy the enemy position.

A number of enemy fighters were killed during the engagement and there were no reports of Afghan civilian injuries, officials said.

“Afghan national army and coalition forces will prevail against the Taliban fighters in Sangin district," Belcher said. “We will intensify our operations to rid the area of Taliban fighters and prevent their return.”

On May 10, 1st Kandak, 209th Afghan National Army Corps soldiers, combat-advised by U.S. special forces, were fired upon by a dozen Taliban fighters while patrolling in Helmand province, U.S. military officials said.

The Afghan and coalition patrol returned fire, then maneuvered to gain the advantage over the Taliban fighters. The enemy attempted to reposition while continuing to fire mortar and rocket-propelled grenades at the Afghan and coalition patrol. Close-air support was requested and delivered munitions on the enemy positions, officials said.

Several enemy fighters were killed during the engagement and there were no reports of any Afghan civilian injuries, officials said.

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)

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