Tuesday, May 26, 2009

OEF Update, May 26, 2009: Troops Kill 13 Militants in Eastern Afghanistan, Continue Offensive Operations in Helmand

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 26, 2009 -- Afghan national army commandos with the 6th Kandak, advised by coalition forces, have killed 13 militants in ongoing operations in Kharwar district, Logar province today.

The Afghan-led force was clearing a compound to disrupt enemy activities when they observed several small groups of armed men moving toward them. The combined force called in a precision air strike, which killed four militants.

Afghan and coalition troops then received small arms and heavy machine-gun fire from a wooded area. They called in another precision air strike, which killed an additional nine militants.

No Afghan commandos, coalition forces or civilian casualties have been reported as a result of the operation.

On May 25, Afghan and coalition forces killed three men and detained six suspects during deliberate operations targeting militants in Helmand province.

In Nadi Ali District, Helmand province, approximately 130 kilometers west of Kandahar, forces conducted an operation to apprehend a key Taliban commander responsible for directing attacks on coalition forces, facilitating bomb-making operations, and violently intimidating on local citizens to gain their cooperation.

In Lashkar Gah, Afghan and coalition forces searched for one targeted individual, who was believed to be located at one of several compounds. Afghan forces verbally asked the residents to exit peacefully.

At one compound, a man exited a building and walked toward the force. The man appeared to be wearing a suicide belt and was warned to halt. He was killed when he continued to approach forces.

At the same compound, Afghan forces issued verbal commands for occupants to exit two other buildings. Women and children who exited indicated no one else was inside. Forces entered one of the buildings and encountered a man shielding himself with a woman and children. When the man shouted a threat, forces shot him. A ricochet struck a woman and child, causing non-life threatening injuries.

Forces entered a third building on the compound and encountered another man who was also using women and children as shields. Forces shot the man, ending the situation without harming the woman and children he had endangered. Three other men were detained without incident on this compound.

"We take the safety of Afghan civilians very seriously and sincerely regret that any civilians were injured in this operation," said Ministry of Defense spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi. "Afghan and coalition forces took extensive measures to protect civilians, but militants intentionally placed civilians in harm's way."

The injuries of woman and child were treated on site by a coalition medic. Forces transported the woman and her child to a coalition medical facility for further treatment. At the request of the wounded woman, her other four children accompanied her to the coalition facility and currently are being looked after by a coalition civil affairs team assisted by a native Afghan.

At the other compounds targeted during this operation, Afghan forces used verbal commands to convince occupants to exit the buildings. Forces met similar resistance, resulting in an escalation using non-lethal force. One man sustained injuries in the escalation and is currently receiving care from coalition medical personnel. Forces detained three additional suspects without firing shots.

Forces found an assault rifle and a large bag of ammunition.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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