Afghanistan — Forces Detain Suspected Insurgents, Find Weapons

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