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Troops Kill Militants, Detain 10 in Afghanistan Operation

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2007 – Afghan and coalition forces yesterday targeted insurgent networks in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, killing several militants and detaining 10 others. Two civilians were wounded in the operation.

The combined force searched compounds in the Musa Qaleh district targeting people associated with a weapons facilitator believed to have been killed in an earlier coalition precision strike in the area.

The combined force detained 10 people suspected of having links to insurgent weapons-facilitation networks. The detainees will be questioned regarding their involvement in weapons facilitation operations, as well as other extremist activities, officials said.

Afghan and coalition forces came under small-arms fire from several militants on one of the compounds while conducting their search of the area. The combined force returned fire, killing the militants.

Afghan and coalition forces also assessed the precision munitions strike, finding several dead militants at the impact site. Two teenage males who had suffered injuries during the course of the precision munitions strike also were found during the assessment. Afghan and coalition forces transported the wounded boys to a medical facility for treatment.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the wounded for a speedy recovery," said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman. "Afghan and coalition forces make every effort to prevent injuries or deaths to civilians not taking part in hostilities. It is unfortunate when militant forces put innocent civilians at risk by conducting extremist operations in their midst."

In other operations yesterday, Afghan forces detained three Taliban extremists and secured a weapon cache in western Kandahar. A 13-year-old girl was killed during the operation. The cause of the girl's death is unknown at this time, U.S. officials said.

The Afghan-led element conducted the operation to capture a mid-level Taliban commander and disrupt Taliban operations after receiving credible intelligence.

"It's unfortunate that, during the ongoing security operations, a young girl was killed. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the girl," Belcher said. "Afghan and coalition forces make every effort to prevent injuries and deaths of civilians. These incidents could be stopped if Taliban extremists stopped using civilian areas to conduct operations."

In operations on Dec. 7, several militants were killed in Helmand province as coalition forces targeted Taliban support networks.

Coalition forces conducted a precision-guided-munitions strike targeting a Taliban commander responsible for planning and conducting attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in several districts including Musa Qaleh. Reports also indicate the individual is associated with weapons facilitation and narcotics smuggling.

Coalition forces targeted a building on a compound in the Musa Qaleh district containing several militants, including the Taliban commander. Coalition forces employed a precision-guided bomb, destroying the building and killing the militants.

Multiple secondary explosions also were reported, indicating the presence of a sizeable weapons cache.

“We’re effectively eroding the Taliban’s command and control, key support infrastructure as well as their networks’ stability,” Belcher said.

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

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