WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2006 – Afghan and coalition forces captured a known makeshift bomb expert and terrorist cell leader today during an operation south of Asadabad, U.S. military officials reported. The terrorist was the leader of a cell that planned bomb attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the Konar region. He was also responsible for placing bombs in various locations in the Pech Valley region.
Intelligence indicated that the terrorist was planning to attack coalition and Afghan security forces in the immediate future, officials said.
"This improvised explosive device builder posed an imminent threat to the safety of not only coalition and Afghan forces, but to the local population," said Air Force Lt. Col. John Paradis, a coalition spokesman. "This is a positive development in that a key terrorist facilitator has been detained, his actions thwarted and his future plans disrupted. Today's operation sends a strong message to the extremists. We will continue to pursue these enemies of Afghanistan."
The operation ended without incident, and no injuries were reported, officials said.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, coalition forces killed 10 Taliban rebels in Paktika province while conducting offensive operations during Operation Mountain Fury on Sept. 25.
Coalition forces spotted 15 extremists operating in the Sharan district and engaged with ground forces and attack helicopters. Five of the extremists broke contact and fled.
"Operation Mountain Fury continues to pressure the enemy to eliminate their ability to coerce and intimidate the Afghan people," said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a coalition spokesman. "We will continue to take the fight to the enemy and destroy them, if necessary, to ensure security here in Paktika and elsewhere."
In a separate incident in Khost province, a suicide bomber apparently wearing an explosive vest attacked an Afghan National Army vehicle patrol near their encampment. A U.S. soldier received minor injuries, and two vehicles were damaged. The suicide bomber died in the attack.
In other news from Afghanistan, Kapisa province governor, Abdul Satar Murad, will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a major road project Sept. 28. The ceremony is in support of the first phase of the recent $3 million road contract provided by the Bagram provincial reconstruction team. The road, when completed, will extend 62 kilometers in length and connect all districts of Kapisa province and make Kapisa the only province in Afghanistan with roads connecting all districts with Kabul.
"This will be the first time that people will be able to travel to all the districts across the province, bringing commerce, security and stability to the region," said Army Maj. Donald Johnson, director of civil-military operations for the Bagram PRT. "Our goal is to aid in making them more self-sufficient and a future partner in the international arena."
Finally, about 70 Afghan and American leaders and experts from around Afghanistan are attending the first national field artillery conference at Kabul Military Training Center this week. The conference is modeled on similar U.S. conferences to facilitate discussion and help units operate using standard procedures.
The culmination event of the conference is a live-fire exercise conducted by the Afghan National Army tomorrow. They will fire Russian Howitzers, large artillery guns and mortars. The live-fire exercise is meant to demonstrate "what right looks like," officials said.