American Forces Press Service
Feb. 24, 2008 - Afghan and coalition forces have killed enemy combatants and destroyed insurgents' infrastructure and weapons in Afghanistan in recent days, military officials said. Coalition troops searched compounds in the Kajaki district of Helmand province yesterday for a Taliban leader responsible for conducting antigovernment operations in the area, military officials said.
During the two operations, coalition forces were attacked by insurgents using small arms and hand grenades. Troops retaliated, killing an unspecified number of enemy combatants.
"While coalition forces conducted a search of the building during one operation, armed assailants who were barricaded in separate rooms engaged coalition forces with small-arms fire and hand grenades," said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition forces spokesman.
"The assailants were killed when coalition forces responded in self-defense," Belcher said. "A search of the site after the exchange revealed a dead female and child in one of the rooms the assailants used to engage coalition forces."
The spokesman expressed condolences to the family and friends of the slain woman and child. "It is a deplorable, yet common, tactic of insurgents to place innocent women and children in harm's way," he added.
In the pair of operations, troops detained two individuals suspected to have ties to Taliban insurgents, and seized AK 47 assault rifles and ammunition. The suspects are being held for questioning, officials said.
Earlier in Helmand province, Afghan and coalition forces conducted operations Feb. 20-22 in the Karez deh Baba and Kajaki districts which lay along a supply line used by insurgents to smuggle weapons and drugs. Military officials said enemy combatants also were using the areas to launch attacks on surrounding cities.
In the first two days of the operation, Afghan national security forces raided target areas to disrupt the insurgents' ability to engage friendly forces with small-arms, rocket and indirect fire from prepared fighting positions. At the same time, friendly forces used precise air strikes on enemy targets.
"Throughout the day, insurgents kept trying to fight the (Afghan national security forces). The result was always the same," said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman. "(The insurgents were) defeated."
Meanwhile, Afghan forces spoke with local citizens to ensure they understood that the mission's purpose was to restore security and improve local infrastructure. "We have been impressed by the efforts in Musa Qaleh and want the same for our village," a local Afghan was quoted as saying.
Other villagers echoed this sentiment, saying they welcome the security and stability that leaders of the national security forces and government can provide. Villagers also provided crucial information about insurgent practices and the locations of insurgent safe houses, military officials said.
On Feb. 21, Afghan-led forces deployed in smaller units when they observed insurgents moving into fighting positions to engage them. Afghan forces rooted out the insurgents and cleared the position, finding an improvised explosive device and a small-arms cache.
The enemy reinforced different fighting positions and engaged with indirect fire when the Afghan-led force renewed their assault. Troops found another small-arms and ammunition cache, and coalition forces found roughly 400 pounds of ammonium nitrate. All of the seized materials were later destroyed.
"This was an enormous find because this substance is a common explosive additive that could be used in IEDs," Bowman said. "The (Afghan national security forces) prevented future attacks and saved innocent civilians with this discovery."
In the course of operations, the Afghan-led force discovered the insurgents' command center and a 100-foot deep interconnected tunnel system. The command center contained a series of caves, and the tunnel was littered with spare ammunition and shell casings, military officials said. Afghan troops suppressed enemy forces in the immediate area before destroying the cave and tunnel system with precision-guided munitions.
"In the last three days, the government of (the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) and (Afghan national security forces) saved numerous lives by capturing bomb-making materials," Bowman said. "(Afghan-led) forces have maintained pressure on the Taliban to prevent them from accomplishing their goals of terrorizing and intimidating the Afghan populace."
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