WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2011 — A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force today joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai in condemning the killing of more than a dozen Afghan civilians, including women and children, in a roadside-bomb attack in Afghanistan’s Paktika province today.
Reports indicate a civilian vehicle struck an insurgent-planted bomb, killing at least 13 civilians in the province’s Khoshamand district.
“We join President Karzai in condemning the despicable murder of these innocent Afghan civilians,” said Navy Rear Adm. Vic Beck. “From the families who have lost loved ones to the communities they call home, every loss of innocent life, especially the loss of children, is incredibly painful. Our thoughts are with those grieving, and we will continue work with the Afghan government in bringing those responsible to justice.”
Meanwhile, ISAF Joint Command officials provided details of recent operations:
— Coalition forces conducted a precision airstrike on a Taliban command-and-control fighting position today after a partnered coalition and Afghan security force in Faryab province’s Qaisar district came under heavy machine-gun fire. The security force is assessing the results of the strike, officials said, emphasizing that the strike took place only after confirmation that no civilians were present and no other means existed to counter the threat.
— Afghan and coalition forces detained a Taliban leader responsible for roadside-bomb attacks against Afghan forces in Kandahar province yesterday. He operated in the Maiwand district and was in direct contact with other Taliban insurgents in the area, officials said, and planned to attack Afghan government officials. Two other suspected insurgents were detained in the operation.
— Afghan and coalition forces detained a Haqqani terrorist network leader, along with several other, suspected insurgents in Khost province’s Manduzai district yesterday. Recent reports indicate he and other Haqqani insurgents were gathering materials for an attack on Afghan army vehicles, officials said. The security force recovered rifles, a pistol, a grenade, a chest rack, bomb-making materials and ammunition.
— Also yesterday, Afghan and coalition forces detained a Taliban leader, along with several other suspected insurgents, in Paktia province’s Gardez district. The Taliban leader and his group are responsible for planting roadside bombs targeting coalition forces and for planning assassinations of local government officials, and is closely associated with Taliban leaders in the area, officials said.
— Afghan and coalition forces detained a Taliban facilitator, along with several suspected insurgents, in Farah province’s Bala Boluk district yesterday. The facilitator recently was involved with providing rockets, ammunition and bomb-making materials to Taliban insurgents for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, officials said, and also planted roadside bombs.
— Afghan and coalition forces seeking a Taliban leader detained several suspected insurgents and killed an armed attacker yesterday in Paktia province’s Gardez district. As the security force approached the targeted compound, they saw two armed insurgents running into a mosque. Afghan forces called for the mosque’s occupants to come out peacefully. One armed insurgent came out and was detained. The second armed insurgent fired at the security force. After several attempts to get him to surrender, Afghan forces entered the mosque and killed him. The security force recovered an assault rifle, a sniper rifle and ammunition.
— In Kandahar province’s Zharay district, Afghan and coalition forces targeting a Taliban leader who is connected to a Dec. 17 indirect-fire attack on Forward Operating Base Wilson detained a suspected insurgent. The wanted Taliban leader is responsible for movement of supplies and facilitation of suicide-bomb-attack materials and is associated with Taliban leadership in the province, officials said. He also received numerous suicide-vest bombs from a fellow Taliban leader, they added.
In other news, ISAF officials confirmed a Taliban leader was detained during a combined Afghan and coalition forces operation in Paktia province Jan. 17. The detained Taliban leader was involved in roadside-bomb attacks on coalition forces in the province’s Gardez district and was also associated with other Taliban leaders in the province, officials said. Also, Afghan soldiers and ISAF members from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, launched Operation Integrity on Jan. 15.
The goals of the operation were to cordon off a suspected hotspot for Taliban activity, search for weapon and improvised explosive device caches, disrupt enemy logistical operations and gather census data in the region, officials said.
“Our primary task is to disrupt Taliban activity by searching suspected bed-down locations and possible weapons caches,” said Marine Corps Capt. Ronald Diefenbach, commander of the battalion’s weapons company. “Even if no insurgents or weapons are captured, we’ll keep the enemy on his toes and have the opportunity to engage with the local population on a number of issues.”
The Afghan army took the lead in the operation, he noted.
“They were the ones dealing with the local citizens, primarily,” Diefenbach continued, “and getting a feel for the local populace, since they are the future of Afghan security.” After searching several compounds and talking to local residents, Diefenbach said, he noticed the majority of the villagers had no problem talking about the Taliban. Most of the Taliban had left the area, he added, and known hiding spots for insurgent contraband turned up empty.
Diefenbach suggested that local Afghans have been more willing to cooperate after seeing the effectiveness of recent coalition operations that brought numerous Taliban fighters and commanders into custody.
“Their willingness to speak out has to do with the increase in security,” he said. “If you’re not worried about someone threatening your family, you’re more likely to provide information and side with the government.”
Marine Cpl. Nicholas Kovarik, an intelligence analyst, said the combined forces searched more than 200 compounds and gathered census information on nearly 300 people. “Overall, from start to finish everything was a success,” Quinn said. “We managed to collect a lot of census data and a lot of intelligence that is going to help us and other units in the future.”
Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases