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Coalition Targets Bomb Networks in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2009 – Coalition forces killed 37 armed militants and captured four others in operations targeting bomb networks in Afghanistan’s Zabol and Laghman provinces in recent days, military officials reported.

Coalition forces killed 32 armed insurgents, including a woman, detained one suspected militant and destroyed a cache of weapons, explosives and roadside-bomb materials during an operation in Laghman province’s Alishang district.

After the operation, local Afghan officials met with coalition forces and confirmed that all 32 killed were hostile militants. An Afghan governor approved a radio announcement stating these facts.

“We stand by our initial news release, that 32 insurgents were killed during the operation,” Army Col. Jerry O’Hara, a U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman, said. “The enemy combatants used girls and older men to shield their advance. It is important to note that acting as sentries and spotters takes away any claims of being a noncombatant. We go through great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and take responsibility when we inadvertently cause injuries or casualties.”

An operation yesterday in Zabol province’s Jaldak district targeted a Taliban roadside-bomb facilitator. The targeted militant also is believed to be in direct contact with local Taliban commanders, planning bomb attacks along Afghanistan’s Highway 1, officials said.

As coalition forces approached, armed militants engaged them with small-arms fire. Because women and children might have been inside the buildings, coalition forces held their fire and called for all occupants to come out peacefully. Nine women and 16 children exited without harm, and they were escorted to a safe location.

Meanwhile, the armed militants remained inside the buildings and continued to engage the force with small-arms fire. With the women and children out of harm’s way, the force entered the buildings, killing five armed militants and detaining three suspected militants.

The force found a rocket-propelled grenade hidden in the building and destroyed it to prevent its future use.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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