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Insurgents Killed, Detained in Afghanistan; Weapons Cache Destroyed

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2007 – Afghan and coalition forces killed a significant number of insurgents, detained seven militants and destroyed a weapons cache in Afghanistan over the past three days.

Twenty enemy fighters ambushed Afghan national police and coalition forces today while troops patrolled close to the Pakistan border near Chamkani in Paktya province.

Enemy combatants maneuvered into fighting positions and continued their assault as Afghan and coalition forces returned fire. Combined forces observed a reinforcing enemy unit approaching from the west and called in close-air support to destroy several enemy positions.

Troops maintained tactical advantage during the eight-hour battle with the enemy, which was ongoing during the time of this release. Friendly forces are currently conducting a battle damage assessment of the area, according to officials, and early reports indicate a significant number of insurgents have been killed.

No Afghan civilians have been injured and no property has been damaged during the operation, officials said.

“Afghan national security and coalition forces will continue to pursue and interdict Taliban fighters who threaten the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

During a raid today against extremist forces in Nadir Shah Kot district of Khowst province, combined forces nabbed five militants and destroyed a weapons cache.

Credible intelligence led forces to the compound, where assassination cell members allegedly reside. The cell, known as the Haqqani network, helps carry out improvised explosive device attacks and weapons smuggling, military officials said.

While searching the compound, troops discovered fragmentation grenades, rifles, an AK 47 assault rifle and other contraband items. The cache was later destroyed a safe distance away.

“This particular operation sought members of an assassination cell known to target Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officials,” Belcher said.

The detainees are being held for questioning, officials said. No shots were fired and no one was injured in the operation.

Afghan national police and coalition forces received rocket propelled grenade and machinegun fire May 16 while patrolling near Sarkoni in Korengal Valley.

Taliban fighters quickly retreated as combined forces returned fire and began to engage the enemy with mortars.

One coalition soldier was injured in the conflict.

“The Taliban has learned they cannot stand up to the Afghan national police or coalition forces,” Belcher said. “Their cowardly efforts to disrupt the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will continue to be crushed as efforts to rid the country of Taliban fighters increases.”

In a separate operation against Taliban forces May 16, Afghan and coalition forces detained two militants in the Kajaki district of Helmand province.

Militants fired on combined forces as troops approached a targeted building. Coalition forces responded with small-arms fire and followed up with an air strike that destroyed the militants’ firing position.

Credible intelligence led the forces to the compound suspected of housing Taliban militants, officials said. The two suspects are being held for questioning.

“A precision strike was conducted when it was obvious the militants were well-armed and had no intentions of surrendering,” Belcher said.

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

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