Afghanistan — Taliban leaders targeted in Afghan led operation

On Wednes­day (21 April, 2010), local Afghans in the Giz­ab region of Oruz­gan province took part in an appar­ent upris­ing against Tal­iban insur­gents oper­at­ing in their com­mu­ni­ty.

In response to the local action, the Aus­tralian Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group (SOTG) and its Afghan part­ner unit, the Provin­cial Police Reserve deployed to the area. On arrival, the forces were engaged by insur­gents with small arms fire and rock­et pro­pelled grenades. The Aus­tralian and Afghan force react­ed and used close air sup­port to effec­tive­ly neu­tralise the insur­gent attack. The com­bined Afghan/Australian force remains in the loca­tion.

The Chief of Joint Oper­a­tions, Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Mark Evans, said that the action of the Giz­ab peo­ple was a strong indi­ca­tor that the cur­rent ISAF strat­e­gy of pop­u­la­tion pro­tec­tion was start­ing to show pos­i­tive results.

“Our pol­i­cy of pro­tect­ing the peo­ple and tar­get­ing insur­gent net­works is hav­ing the effect of build­ing con­fi­dence in local com­mu­ni­ties.

“This action has demon­strat­ed the adapt­abil­i­ty and flex­i­bil­i­ty of our forces. We were able to quick­ly react to the needs of the local nation­als and sup­port them in their actions against the insur­gents.

“The SOTG and the part­nered Afghan force fought shoul­der to shoul­der with the Giz­ab locals against the Tal­iban insur­gents well into the night until they were sound­ly defeat­ed.

“The deci­sive bat­tle has since set the con­di­tions for the remain­ing res­i­dents of Giz­ab to stand up and resist the Tal­iban. Encour­ag­ing­ly, there are ele­ments of the com­mu­ni­ty where there is increas­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion and lev­els of angst direct­ed at the Tal­iban.

“This recent action also shows that there is very good part­ner­ing and a high degree of coop­er­a­tion with the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces in Oruz­gan province,” Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Evans said.

A mid­dle lev­el Tal­iban leader, Mul­lah Rah­mat­tulah and a num­ber of oth­er insur­gents were believed to be killed in the engage­ment.

Accord­ing to the Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of the SOTG, Lieu­tenant Colonel P, a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of his unit will spend ANZAC Day in Giz­ab, on the bat­tle­field, like their fore­fa­thers 95 years ago.

As the oper­a­tion is ongo­ing fur­ther infor­ma­tion is not avail­able. How­ev­er, Defence has received no report­ing to sug­gest that there have been any civil­ian casu­al­ties, col­lat­er­al dam­age or rules of engage­ment issues result­ing from ADF involve­ment in this oper­a­tion.

In a sep­a­rate oper­a­tion by the SOTG ear­li­er in the week and in anoth­er part of the province, a sig­nif­i­cant cache of ammo­ni­um nitrate, a key com­po­nent of impro­vised explo­sive devices, was found. Four hun­dred kilo­grams of the banned fer­tilis­er and a small num­ber of weapons were destroyed.

This oper­a­tion fol­lows sev­er­al suc­cess­ful oper­a­tions con­duct­ed recent­ly by Aus­tralian Spe­cial Forces and their Afghan part­ners to dis­rupt the Tal­iban insur­gency.

On 12 April 2010, insur­gent leader Mul­lah Faqir and three oth­er insur­gents were cap­tured and detained dur­ing a joint clear­ance oper­a­tion in the Mirabad Val­ley region of Oruz­gan Province.

Last month the Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Group, and their part­nered Afghan Police col­leagues, cap­tured key insur­gent Impro­vised Explo­sive Device coor­di­na­tor Mul­lah Janan Ande­whal and a num­ber of oth­er indi­vid­u­als involved in the con­struc­tion and place­ment of Impro­vised Explo­sive Devices.

Media note: Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Evans is avail­able for a lim­it­ed peri­od for inter­views.

Media con­tact: Defence Media Liai­son: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

Aus­tralian Min­istry of Defence