WASHINGTON, June 18, 2006 – U.S. officials have rebuffed a Taliban claims to the media that a U.S. helicopter was shot down yesterday in the Paktika province of Afghanistan, killing the U.S. Soldiers on board. There is absolutely no truth to this claim, officials in Afghanistan said today. All U.S. helicopters are accounted for, and there were no U.S. casualties. "The extremists are threatened by the presence of Afghan and coalition forces in areas where they used to have safe havens and sanctuary," said Col. Thomas Collins, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan spokesman.
"The Afghan national security forces and the coalition will continue on the offensive and relentlessly pursue these extremists," he continued. "Together we will remove their negative influence from the region and enable progress in areas that need it." In other news, coalition forces collected and destroyed insurgent weapon stores in Afghanistan today. Afghan civilians in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province led a coalition unit to a weapons cache of about 20 rounds of artillery ammunition. Coalition engineers examined the munitions, determined they were unusable and destroyed them in place.
Elsewhere, a coalition patrol discovered a weapons cache that included 64 pieces of mortars and rockets in the Dih Bala district of Nangarhar province. A coalition explosive ordinance disposal team destroyed the weapons in place. "Recovering and disposing of these weapons increases the safety and security of Afghans," said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesperson. "It reduces the danger in the area posed by insurgents who might use these munitions indiscriminately to cause harm to the Afghan people, Afghan national security forces or coalition forces."