Militants, Noncombatants Killed in Oruzgan
American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Aug. 11, 2008 Afghan national security forces and coalition forces fought militants in a series of engagements that left 25 militants and eight noncombatants dead in Khas Oruzgan district of Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province yesterday.
Militants used a series of buildings along a known coalition route to launch multiple ambushes against coalition troops and then fled into a neighboring compound where they held 11 noncombatants hostage, including several children and an infant.
As the coalition elements attempted to disengage from a previous attack, militants ambushed the coalition servicemembers from the compound that housed the noncombatants using small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
An anonymous eyewitness told coalition forces the civilians tried to escape the compound, but the militants beat them and refused to let them leave.
Coalition troops called in close-air support to engage the militants hiding in the structure. They did not have knowledge of noncombatants in the buildings at that time.
Survivors reported that coalition aircraft dropped a bomb on the enemy position that killed eight of the civilians.
Once the battle had ended, coalition and Afghan troops searched the compound, where they discovered the three survivors. Coalition troops rendered medical aid and brought the survivors to a coalition base to receive further medical treatment.
“The Taliban uses innocent civilians’ homes, taking them by force to attack Afghan and coalition forces,” said Juma Gul, the head provincial police chief of Oruzgan.
“If civilians get killed during these attacks, the responsibility falls on the Taliban and their terrorist sponsors,” he said. “Afghan and coalition forces always use extreme measures to avoid collateral damage. In this situation, in Khas Oruzgan, the Taliban was attacking the Afghan and coalition forces from a civilian compound. Unfortunately, eight civilians were killed and three wounded. They were held by the Taliban against their will.”
(From a Combined Joint Task Force 101 news release.)