BAGRAM, Afghanistan March 22 —
U.S.-led forces in southeastern Afghanistan captured two
suspected rebels and seized a cache of ammunition and light machine
guns in a broad new operation in the hunt for terrorists, an Army
spokesman said Saturday.
Separately, attackers opened fire on an Afghan army post in the
southern province of Kandahar on Saturday, killing three Afghan
soldiers, a senior Afghan government official said.
The gunmen traded fire with soldiers in the Wath army post, about
20 miles south of Spinboldak, for about an hour, then fled, said
Fazaluddin Agha, the head of administration in Spinboldak district,
near the border with Pakistan. He said they were believed to be from
the former Taliban regime or with the radical Muslim group
The arrests Friday of two suspected rebels were part of Operation
Valiant Strike, an offensive being conducted by 600 U.S. ground
troops in villages and caves in the Sami Ghar mountains of southern
Kandahar province, U.S. Army spokesman Col. Roger King said.
Afghan soldiers involved in the U.S.-led sweep have seized bombs,
guns and ammunition and arrested 13 people, said Abdul Raziq, police
chief of the Spinboldak district. Five of the men confessed to
having links to the Taliban, he said.
"We have got information about other friends of these people and
are looking to arrest them," Raziq said. He said U.S. forces and
about 100 Afghan troops were patrolling the border with Pakistan in
About 600 U.S.-led ground troops opened the operation at dawn
Thursday about 60 miles east of the city of Kandahar, King said.
Romanian infantry are also taking part.
King said attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an Afghan
militia vehicle in a separate incident on Saturday, injuring three
militiamen. They were evacuated to a coalition military base near
the eastern town of Khost for medical care. One man lost part of his
arm; other injuries included burns and a broken leg, King said.
Aside from various reconnaissance missions in the area, Valiant
Strike is the first offensive in Kandahar province's Maruf district,
where Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has tribal
links. Ground forces were backed by Apache attack helicopters and up
to 400 support personnel.
The multinational coalition has launched more than a dozen
large-scale offensives since the Taliban were toppled in 2001.
"The whole idea is never to let the enemy rest long enough to
reorganize, regroup, recruit or retrain," King said.
|U.S. Army soldiers seen at the
army base in Bagram, Afghanistan, Thursday March 20, 2003.
About 1,000 U.S. troops launched a raid on villages in
southeastern Afghanistan Thursday, hunting for members of the
al-Qaida terrorist network in the biggest U.S. operation in
just over a year, military officials said. (AP Photo/Gurinder
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