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U.S., Afghan Troops Seize 16 Suspected Taliban in Raid

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2007 – Afghan and U.S. forces today detained 16 militants during a raid on an alleged Taliban compound and began an offensive to clear the Taliban from the Helman River’s western bank.

In Nangarhar province’s Sherzad district, coalition forces acted on credible intelligence that led to three separate compounds. The compounds were suspected of harboring Taliban and foreign fighters who had previously targeted Afghan and coalition forces.

Taliban forces inside two of the compounds attempted to engage coalition forces as they approached. Coalition troops fired on the militants, killing the assailants and quickly securing the compounds.

The anti-insurgent forces searched the compounds and found rocket-propelled grenade launchers and several grenades, which were removed to a safe distance and destroyed.

No civilians were injured in the operations.

The detainees will be questioned as to their identities and involvement in militant activities.

Elements of the 205th Afghan National Army Corps, advised by coalition forces, began a new operation to clear the Taliban on the western bank of the Helmand River today.

Afghan and coalition forces were in the process of clearing the river area when an enemy mortar crew started firing at their position. After ground forces determined where the enemy was firing from, they called in coalition close-air support, which destroyed the mortar-firing position, killing several enemy combatants.

In a separate engagement during this operation, enemy forces attempted to ambush the Afghan and coalition forces with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The Afghan and coalition troops returned fire, killing numerous enemy fighters.

Several compounds were cleared of enemy fighters in the first 12 hours of the operation, officials said. More than a dozen Taliban were killed. No civilians have been reported killed during the operation.

“The residents of the Helmand province should be able to enjoy the same freedoms that most of the world enjoys on a daily basis: freedom from oppression, freedom to receive an education and freedom to live in a safe Afghanistan,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman. “These are some of the freedoms that most of us take for granted. This operation in the Helmand province is one more step toward achieving those freedoms.”

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases)

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