American Forces Press Service
June 5, 2008 - Several militants were killed and five others were detained yesterday as coalition forces disrupted anti-government operations in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Coalition troops searched several compounds in Kajaki district, targeting a Taliban leader associated with the murder of several Afghan government officials. During the searches, they identified a militant armed with a rocket-propelled grenade waiting in ambush, and several others consolidating for an attack.
The coalition troops responded with air strikes, killing the militants.
Continuing their search, the troops discovered AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition vests, ammunition, grenades and a large cache of narcotics. The weapons and drugs were destroyed to prevent future use.
In other news from Afghanistan, Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the British forces of Task Force Helmand captured a series of enemy strong points and defensive positions, mostly ridding the area in northern Garmsir of insurgents.
In the weeks since the Marines started operations in southern Helmand, the insurgents have resisted the advancement of troops and held ground in the district, officials said. The Marines have encountered disorganized resistance in about 150 engagements with insurgents using small arms, indirect fire, and rocket-propelled grenades.
The last engagement was June 1, when an insurgent attempted to engage NATO International Security Assistance Force troops with a grenade, officials said.
The 24th MEU is continuing clearing operations in the district.
"The area in and around Garmsir is currently stable, but there remains a great deal of work to be done," said Marine Col. Peter Petronzio, 24th MEU commander.
The Marines also are conducting security and census patrols throughout the villages to determine the civilian population living in and moving back to the district. During these patrols, Marines have had many interactions with the Afghan population.
"Many of the people who have approached our patrols have told us how happy they are that the insurgents have left. They seem genuinely glad to be home," said Marine Lt. Col. Anthony Henderson, commander of the MEU's reinforced infantry battalion.
The Marines also have found many weapons caches in the areas the insurgents have fled. The caches vary in size and contain a range of items that include bomb-making materials, RPGs, ammunition, mines and unexploded ordnance. Through patrols or based on tips from local citizens, Marines already have discovered 13 caches in June, bringing the total to almost 50 since the start of clearing operations, officials said.
(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 101 and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit news releases.)