War on Terrorism

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Coalition in Afghanistan Rejects Reports on Civilian Casualties

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, July 2, 2006 – News reports published June 30 that claimed coalition forces fired rockets in Afghanistan's Kunar province, allegedly killing a school headmaster and injuring two others, are false, military officials here said today. A Combined Forces Command Afghanistan statement said the three people noted in news articles are, in fact, Taliban extremists responsible for conducting attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

According to the statement, three extremists attacked a coalition patrol on a road in the province's Pech district June 29, and the soldiers responded with small-arms and mortar fire, all positively observed by coalition forces. The three extremists fled in a blue Hilux truck. Later, a blue Hilux truck was reported to have delivered three men with gunshot wounds to the Asadabad hospital. One extremist died of his wounds. The other two were taken into custody by coalition forces and are being treated for their wounds in a coalition hospital.

The man who died was identified as Sayeed Alam, the nephew of a known Taliban commander in the Pech valley. Alam is known to be a member of a cell that plants roadside bombs, officials said. The wounded were also identified as known Taliban extremists. Their names are not being released for security reasons, officials said.

"These three men were without a doubt Taliban extremists and not innocent civilians," said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force 76 spokesman. "Coalition forces make every effort to protect Afghan civilians and limit the possibility of civilian casualties. The coalition is improving the lives of Afghan people through reconstruction projects and civil and medical assistance visits to villages. The Taliban's only purpose is to stop progress and instill fear and intimidation."

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