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Coalition Defends Attack in Afghanistan’s Paktika Province

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2006 – A joint Afghan National Army and coalition patrol struck an improvised explosive device and was subsequently engaged by extremists with small-arms and rocket-propelled-grenade fire in the Waza Khwa district of Afghanistan’s Paktika province yesterday, military officials reported.

One Afghan soldier was killed, and one coalition vehicle was damaged in the attack.

The extremists fled the area in two trucks identified by coalition ground forces, and this information was relayed to coalition aircraft overhead. The fleeing trucks were traveling off-road in an attempt to avoid detection. Overhead aircraft observed 10 to 15 people and heavy weapons in the retreating vehicles. Those trucks were engaged and destroyed by coalition aircraft. Numerous secondary explosions were observed, indicating the presence of ammunition or explosives in the vehicles.

“Coalition forces are confident that the two trucks destroyed by coalition aircraft were the same two trucks fleeing the site of the attack on the joint coalition patrol,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman. “We are aware that local officials have stated that Afghan Border Police were attacked and killed by coalition aircraft, and we are investigating that report. At this time, coalition forces cannot confirm the identity or affiliation of the extremists who attacked our patrol and were subsequently destroyed by coalition aircraft. However, we will work closely with the Afghan government on this investigation.”

Six IED incidents have occurred in this area in a six-week period. IEDs are a serious threat to all Afghans and kill and injure more innocent civilians than coalition and Afghan security forces combined, officials said.

(From a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news release.)

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