Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill 23 in Helmand Engagements

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2010 - Twenty-three enemy fighters are dead after insurgents attacked Afghan and coalition forces conducting a combined dismounted patrol on three separate occasions in the Sangin district of Afghanistan's Helmand province yesterday, military officials reported.

During the first engagement, Afghan and coalition forces returned fire with machine guns, mortars and a light anti-armor weapon. When the insurgent fire continued, the force called for artillery rocket fire and successfully suppressed the threat.

During several additional small-arms engagements with insurgents, coalition forces called for artillery rocket fire and air support. Over the course of the engagements, coalition forces struck three insurgent firing positions located inside compounds, one with an aircraft-fired precision-guided munition and two with artillery rocket fire.

The combined force ceased fire when women and children moved into the area where the insurgent fire had originated. According to initial reports, up to 14 insurgents were killed in the first engagement.

In the second incident, insurgents attacked a combined Afghan and coalition patrol with small-arms, machine-gun and mortar fire from a tree line. The patrol positively identified the insurgents' firing positions and responded with small-arms, machine-gun and mortar fire. When insurgent firing continued, the patrol fired artillery rockets.

According to initial reports, up to five insurgents were killed in the engagement.

In the third incident, insurgents attacked a coalition patrol base with small-arms fire. Coalition forces positively identified the insurgent firing positions and returned the insurgents' fire with small-arms, machine-gun and mortar fire. The forces also fired a portable missile at an insurgent firing position in a compound. When the insurgent fire continued from multiple firing positions, coalition forces called for air support.

A coalition aircraft struck an insurgent position that had been used on three separate occasions throughout the engagement with a precision-guided munition. The insurgent fire ceased following the air strike. Initial coalition reports indicate up to five insurgents were killed in the third engagement.

In other news from Afghanistan, Afghan and coalition forces killed three known manufacturers and facilitators of roadside bombs during an operation today in Wardak province.

Elsewhere, Afghan and coalition security forces captured a Haqqani terrorist network subcommander who was in charge of operations in Paktia province, as well as two of his associates, during an intelligence-driven operation overnight in Khost province.

The security force discovered a pistol, a grenade, multiple bayonets and loaded ammunition magazines at the scene. They did not fire their weapons, and they protected the women and children during the search.

In Kapisa province's Tagab district yesterday, an Afghan civilian was killed by a group of unknown gunmen.

During a combined Afghan and coalition security patrol, a speeding vehicle approached the convoy. When the vehicle stopped short of the convoy, a man jumped out of the vehicle and ran from the patrol. The vehicle's driver then attempted to block the patrol's access to the fleeing man.

The man ran over a hill and around a bend in the road - out of sight of the patrol - in what appeared to be an attempt to avoid Afghan and coalition forces.

A nearby coalition helicopter in support of the patrol responded and tracked the fleeing man. Shortly afterward, the helicopter crew saw the man hit with small-arms fire from an unknown location. The man fell, bleeding from the chest.

The helicopter crew guided the patrol to the fallen man, and the patrol's medic tried unsuccessfully to save the man's life.

As it began to evacuate the body to the local Afghan police station, the combined patrol was ambushed by about 25 insurgents. The engagement lasted for nearly five hours, and the coalition force was engaged with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

About 10 insurgents were killed during the engagement. Because a populated area was nearby, officials said, Afghan and coalition forces were precise and restrained in their use of force.

Once the patrol returned to the coalition base, the local police chief took custody of the Afghan civilian's body to turn over to the family. The police chief said he would begin an investigation into the murder.

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