WASHINGTON, April 21, 2010 — Afghan and international forces detained numerous suspected insurgents and seized illegal weapons in recent operations throughout Afghanistan, military officials reported.
In Kandahar province’s Arghandab district last night, a combined Afghan-international security force captured a suspected Taliban bomb expert believed to be responsible for building and emplacing roadside bombs himself and leading a roadside-bomb cell. Nearly a dozen other suspected insurgents also were captured in the raid.
In Kandahar’s Spin Boldak district yesterday, an Afghan border police unit discovered a significant amount of ammonium nitrate and other bomb-making equipment while inspecting vehicles. The border police recovered more than 3,200 pounds of ammonium nitrate — a banned fertilizer often used in making homemade bombs — as well as 12 sticks of a substance believed to be TNT and 800 blasting caps. They detained a man in connection with the find.
East of Marja in Helmand province yesterday, Afghan forces working with International Security Assistance Force partners conducted a combined operation to continue disrupting links between insurgent suicide bombers and narcotics networks. After surrounding a compound in which a man associated with suicide bombing attacks was believed to be located, Afghan special police were able to get all residents to leave. One man was detained, and the patrol found an assault rifle, a shotgun and 66 pounds of opium. One woman and four children were protected throughout this operation, in which no civilians were injured, officials said.
Yesterday in Kandahar, an ISAF patrol found a cache containing four rocket-propelled grenades, an RPG launcher, 20 grenades, three rifle grenades, a machine gun, four assault rifles and a large quantity of small-arms ammunition.
In Kunar yesterday, an Afghan-international combined force captured a Taliban facilitator who also is associated with the Hezb-E Islami Gulbuddin terror organization. The combined force established a roadblock northeast of Karbun, along the border of the Shaikal Shate and Dangam districts, after intelligence information indicated insurgent activity. The combined force surrounded an approaching vehicle and captured the facilitator, who identified himself and surrendered when confronted.
In Helmand’s Nad-e Ali district yesterday, a combined patrol found eight grenades, three claymore mines, four artillery rounds, 22 grenades and an RPG. No shots were fired, and no Afghan civilians were harmed during these operations, officials said.
In other news from Afghanistan, ISAF Joint Command officials released a statement backing off from part of its official account of an April 19 incident in which four people were killed.
“The term ‘insurgent’ should not have been used to describe two occupants of a vehicle involved in an escalation-of-force incident in Khost province Monday,” the statement said. Based on initial operational reports, two of the four people killed in a vehicle that approached an ISAF convoy were described as “known insurgents” in an ISAF Joint Command news release about the incident, the statement continued. Officials explained that their fingerprints matched identities contained in a biometric database for previous insurgent activity, and that while it is accurate to say they were in the database, that fact has not yet been determined to be relevant to the incident.
“We sincerely regret this tragic loss of life. Commanders at all levels are increasing efforts to protect the Afghan people affected by our operations,” Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Mike Regner, deputy chief of staff for joint operations at ISAF Joint Command. “Additionally, we are deploying training teams from this headquarters in the coming days to travel throughout Afghanistan to ensure all our troops understand the commander’s guidance and implement critical lessons learned from previous incidents.”
An assessment team made up of ISAF and Afghan forces continues to review the incident in Khost, officials said, and a formal, more thorough joint investigation also may be conducted.
From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release