Monday, February 23, 2009

OEF Summary, Feb. 23, 2009: Civilians Injured in Sangin Operation

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 23, 2009 -- An incident occurred today in Sangin District, Helmand province in which an International Security Assistance Force patrol was ambushed by insurgent forces and resulted in a number of civilian casualties. All of the causalities received immediate medical treatment and were taken by helicopter to ISAF hospitals.

The incident is being investigated fully with the utmost rigour. ISAF is coordinating closely with the Afghan authorities and keeping the Office of the Governor of Helmand province fully informed.

ISAF spokesman Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette said: “Gen. McKiernan takes all allegations of non combatant causalities very seriously. An investigation is being conducted with the help of local Afghan officials to determine what occurred. ISAF forces are here to provide security to the Afghan people and deeply regret any injuries that may have been caused.”

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

In other Afghanistan news, elders from a village located approximately 15 km west of Kandahar City alleged today that two local children were killed and two were wounded when unexploded ordnance they were handling detonated. It is alleged that the unexploded ordnance was left behind by International Security Assistance Force soldiers who were conducting a practice range exercise in the area the day prior, however the nature of the munition involved has yet to be determined.

“Any civilian death is regrettable and our thoughts go to the families in these trying moments,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, ISAF spokesperson. “ISAF has very strict policies in place that prohibit leaving behind any unexploded ordnance and make every effort to ensure the safety of Afghan civilians. Qualified personnel conduct detailed examination and complete sweeps of range sites prior to departing to ensure that the range area is completely safe for both ISAF and ANSF soldiers as well as local village members and infrastructure. This incident is currently under investigation.”

ISAF operates a vigorous educational campaign aimed at informing and encouraging Afghans not to handle any suspicious objects or clearly identified unexploded ordnance on the ground.

(Compiled from International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs news releases.)

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