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U.S., Afghan Troops Rescue Enemy-Held Hostages

American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, June 21, 2007 – Two people who’d been held hostage by Taliban and al Qaeda militants were rescued today by U.S. and Afghan forces during raids in the Zaghun Shah district of Afghanistan’s Paktika province, U.S. officials reported.

Intelligence indicated that three Afghan citizens from the district had recently been abducted by Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.

During raids conducted today, U.S. and Afghan troops discovered one of the hostages being held at a compound, while another hostage held nearby was being led away by his captors to another location.

The anti-insurgent forces chased down and captured the terrorists and freed one of the hostages. Another hostage was being held in a nearby compound. Coalition forces found and released him, too, but they met with armed resistance when attempting to get the militants to surrender.

“The room was filled with armed Taliban and al Qaeda, and they were keeping the women and children who lived at the house close to them in order to protect themselves from the coalition forces outside,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

The anti-insurgent forces subdued the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, with no injuries to the women or children. According to one of the two freed hostages, the third hostage had been killed by the militants a day earlier.

A large cache of rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47 rifles and machine guns was discovered during searches of the two compounds. The weapons were removed to a safe distance and destroyed.

While conducting the raid on the other compound, coalition forces were fired upon and returned fire. Eight militants were detained. They will be questioned as to their identities and participation in militant activities.

The identities of the two freed hostages and the deceased hostage are being withheld at this time.

(From a Combined Joint Task Force 82 news release.)

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