Monday, April 16, 2012

From Afghanistan to Louisiana, with 22 Purple Hearts

One year after they deployed to conduct the high-risk job of ensuring routes were clear of roadside bombs, the soldiers of the 926th Engineer Company returned home Saturday. In all, 22 Purple Heart medals were given to the Louisiana Army National Guard unit - meaning about one-fourth of the soldiers were wounded.

- Sgt. Chad Mccaa kisses his wife, Brittany, after stepping off the airplane in Baton Rouge Saturday. Mccaa was one of about 100 Louisiana Army National Guard troops to return home from Afghanistan.
The Baker-based soldiers were greeted in Baton Rouge by family, friends, senior Guard leaders and Gov. Bobby Jindal. "We will be forever grateful for the service to our nation," he said. "We must also keep in our thoughts the soldiers who are still fighting overseas in defense of our freedom and pray for their safe return."
The 926th soldiers were the lead element for route clearance in Khowst and Paktya provinces, according to a National Guard press release. They cleared 29,500 miles of road and found 72 improvised explosive devices, according to the news release.

- Members of the Louisiana Army National Guard's 926th Engineer Company were greeted in Baton Rouge Saturday, upon returning home from Afghanistan.

The soldiers also conducted 624 route-clearing missions, according to the press release.
"We are proud of their accomplishments and know that all Louisianans should be proud of their service," adjutant Brig. Gen. Glenn Curtis said in the release.
The company is a unit in the 769th Engineer Battalion, which is headquartered in Baton Rouge. This was the company's second deployment to Afghanistan.
The National Guard has previously volunteered that two 926th soldiers were wounded and receievd Purple Heart medals. It wasn't until this weekend that the National Guard revealed that 22 soldiers received wounds.

from NOLA

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6 killed, 11 wounded in Iraq sunday attacks

BAGHDAD, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Six people were killed and 11 wounded in separate attacks, including a car bomb, across Iraq on Sunday, the police said.

In Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk, a booby-trapped car went off near a patrol of a Kurdish security police, locally known as Asayish, while moving near the city's university in central Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The blast killed a Kurdish security member and wounded seven others, along with destroying one of the patrol's vehicles and several nearby civilian cars and buildings, the source said.

In Salahudin province, gunmen in the early morning hours broke into the house of an Iraqi army soldier in the city of Sulaiman Pek, some 160 km north of Baghdad, and shot him dead before they fled the scene, a source from Salahudin's provincial operations command anonymously told Xinhua.

The ethnically mixed cities of Kirkuk and Sulaiman Pek are part of disputed areas claimed both by the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan and Baghdad central government.

Earlier in the day, an Interior Ministry source reportedly said that three members of a family, including a five-year-old boy, were killed when gunmen planted bombs around a house made of mud and straw and blew them up in Taji area, some 20 km north of Baghdad.

A two-year-old daughter of the family was also wounded by the blast, which occurred in the early morning hours, the source said.

In a separate incident, a civilian was injured when a sticky bomb attached to his car detonated in Baghdad's southeastern district of Zaafaraniya, the source added.

In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a former security officer during Saddam Hussein's era was gunned down by armed men using assault rifles in the town of Buhruz, just south of the provincial capital city of Baquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

In a separate incident, an old women and her daughter were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in front their house in al- Gatoon area, just west of Baquba, the source said.

Also in the province, Iraqi security forces carried out search operations across the province during the past 24 hours and arrested six suspects, including five wanted individuals, the source added.

Violence is still common in the Iraqi cities despite the dramatic decrease since its peak in 2006 and 2007 when the country was engulfed in sectarian killings.

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10 al-Qaida militants killed in air strikes in Yemen's south

ADEN, Yemen, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni air forces bombed three sites held by al-Qaida militants in the southern province of Abyan on Monday, killing at least 10 militants and injuring nine others, a security official said.

Fighter jets of the air forces pounded three al-Qaida-held posts in the mountainous areas near Lauder town, about 150 km northeast of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, the local security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The air strikes also hit a compound believed to be used by al- Qaida militants in Lauder's suburbs that has been under the group' s control for around seven days, the official said.

The wounded militants had been taken to a nearby al-Qaida-run hospital in the insurgents-controlled town of Jaar in Abyan, he added.

A field commander of the army forces near the scene told Xinhua anonymously that "a squad of al-Qaida operatives who were preparing to launch suicide attacks against the troops were targeted Monday."

Local residents told Xinhua that "military planes have been flying over our town before it fired about four rockets on al- Qaida positions."

Dozens of tribesmen in the southern town of Luader, in support of the government forces in the area, have been intensely battling the al-Qaida group since last week, leaving over 200 people killed.

In recent months, militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch have carried out assaults and deadly suicide bombings against government troops across the country's lawless southern regions.

Hundreds of al-Qaida militants have built up strongholds in the impenetrable mountains in Abyan and Shabwa provinces, seizing control over several regions in the south where central authority has nearly no presence.

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Afghan soldier opens fire on NATO troop in Kandahar

KANDHAHAR, Afghanistan, April 16 (Xinhua) -- A man in Afghan army uniform opened fire on the soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kandahar airport of Kandahar province, 450 km south of capital Kabul, on Monday was killed as the soldiers returned fire, a military officer said.

"One of our soldier opened fire on the convoy of NATO soldiers in Kandahar airport this morning causing no loss of life. However, the NATO soldiers returned fire and killed him on the spot," a senior military officer General Abdul Hamid Wardak told Xinhua.

He also noted investigation has been initiated to determine the reason behind the incident.

from novinite:

An Afghan soldier opened fire Monday upon Bulgarian NATO soldiers serving in Afghanistan, upon which he was killed by them.

The lone attacker shot on Bulgarian servicemen in the watchtower of the Kandahar military base, accdorging to an Afghan Army spokesperson.
The Bulgarians returned the fire, killing the attacker.

According to Afghanistan Army sources, the soldier was from the northern province of Takhar.
Sources from the ISAF forces in Afghanistan led by NATO have confirmed the tragic incident.

"No NATO soldiers have been killed," said NATO spokesperson Jason Wagoner, without giving further information.

"All safety measures regarding the level of risk have been taken," stated the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense.

Bulgarian Lieutenant-General Atanas Samandov, commander of the Bulgarian forces in Afghanistan, has confirmed that all soldiers are safe and sound.

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Nigeria: Family Confirms Abul Qaqa II Killed

Minna — The purportedly slain Boko Haram's new spokesman, Mohammed Auwal better known as Abu Qaqa II, hailed from Tudun Wada area of Kontagora town in Niger State, a resident of Kontagora said yesterday.

Qaqa II became Boko Haram's spokesman after the arrest of the former Qaqa in January by security operatives. The resident of the town, who craved for anonymity, told Daily Trust in Minna yesterday that Auwal's father, who is known as Mohammed Goma, received the news of the death of his son on Saturday.

Mohammed Auwal, according to a source, was a tailor in Kaduna and he was never known to have any suspicious character let alone becoming a member of the sect.

The family of Abu Qaqa II was informed via a phone call that he was arrested in Kaduna where he was later believed to have been killed. It was learnt that Auwal's father was devastated following the news of his son's death because the deceased was the family's bread winner.

from allAfrica
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4 rebels gunned down after violent battle near Afghan Parliament (Video)

KABUL (PAN): Nearly eight security personnel were killed and 41 injured, including five civilians, in the 19-hour long fierce fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters in the capital Kabul on Monday, said officials.

Fighting ended on Monday, at about 8 am, after Afghan security personnel flushed out militants in the heart of the capital.

On Sunday afternoon gunmen took positions in an under construction buildings in Sherpoor, Darull-Aman, near the Parliament building, Paktiakot and Pul-i-Charkhi diplomatic areas targetting government offices.

All the attackers were gunned down after a night-long battle with security forces, Ghulam Sadique Sediqi, Interior Ministry spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

He said security forces were careful when fighting the insurgents to prevent civilian casualties and the attackers, who had taken up positions, in the Paktiakot area were eliminated by 8pm.

from Pajhwok

***graphic video!*** 

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Key Taliban leaders detained in Faryab province

According to local security officials in northern Faryab province, Afghan special forces detained two key Taliban members following a military operation in this province.
Gen. Ajmal media representative for Shahin Afghan national army brigade in Faryab province said, two key Taliban leaders were detained following a special operation by Afghan commandos.
He also added, the two Taliban commanders were recognized as Mullah Maqdoom and Azizullah and were detained along with one of their security guards.
According to Gen. Ajmal, the operation was conducted at Almar district of northern Faryab province by Afghan commandos and were provided with air support by International coalition security forces.
Taliban militants group yet to comment regarding the report.

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Apr.16., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to capture a senior Taliban leader in Pashtun Kot district, Faryab province, yesterday.

The leader is the head Taliban commissioner in the province, responsible for several kidnappings, suicide attacks, roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

As the security force moved towards the insurgents’ suspected location, the insurgents engaged the security force with AK-47’s. The security force returned fire, killing two insurgents.

The security force detained multiple additional insurgents and seized an AK-47 as a result of this operation.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


In Khost district, Khost province, an Afghan and coalition security force captured a Haqqani facilitator today. The facilitator coordinated the delivery of weapons, vehicles and equipment to insurgents to conduct attacks in the region. The security force detained two additional insurgents and seized two AK-47’s as a result of this operation.

Finally, an Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban facilitator in Jagori district, Ghazni province, today. The facilitator coordinated the movement of weapons, mortars and explosives in the region. The security force detained two additional insurgents and seized one 9 mm pistol, an AK-47 and a roadside bomb pressure plate as a result of this operation.

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42 armed insurgents killed, one wounded and 37 others arrested by Afghan National Police

Publish Date: Apr 16, 2012
42 armed insurgents killed, one wounded and 37 others arrested by Afghan National Police

During the past 24 hours, Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army, NDS and Coalition Forces launched eight joint clearance operations in Nangarhar, Laghman, Zabul, Balkh, Kandahar, Helmand, Khost and Ghazni provinces.

As a result of these operations, 42 armed insurgents were killed, one wounded and 37 others were arrested by Afghan National Police.
Also, during these operations, Afghan National Police discovered and confiscated amount of light and heavy weapons.
During the same 24 hour period, Afghan National Police discovered and defused four anti-vehicle mines, 340 kilograms of explosive materials and 20 heavy rounds as a result of security operations in Nangarhar, Zabul, Logar and Herat provinces.

The 101 Kabul Zone National Police detained two individuals accused of murder and theft in the 1st and 16th Districts of Kabul-City.
In the meantime, Afghan National Border Police arrested three men with fake passport in the Kabul International Airport, yesterday.
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Apr.16.,2012. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition forces killed nine insurgents, wounded one and captured 7 suspects in eastern Afghanistan during operations throughout the past 24 hours, April 15.

Laghman province
A coalition airstrike killed two insurgents after ground troops received small arms fire in Bad Pakh district.

Logar province
Coalition forces discovered a weapons cache containing 18 rocket-propelled grenades, 12 anti-tank mines, Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police uniforms, and an assortment of small arms and ammunition during operations in Azrah district. A majority of the cache has been destroyed and what remains is in coalition force custody.

Nangarhar province
A suicide bomber prematurely detonated outside Forward Operating Base Fenty in Beshood district, killing three insurgents involved and wounding one. Afghan Uniform Police discovered a weapons cache consisting of multiple rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 27 RPG rounds and an assortment of small arms upon search of the detonation site. The wounded insurgent was apprehended by AUP and brought in for questioning.

AUP detained seven suspects during a patrol in Mohmand Dara district. One detainee resisted and attempted to take an AUP weapon. The detainees are under AUP custody for questioning.

Paktiya province
A coalition airstrike killed four insurgents after Afghan and coalition forces received small arms and rocket-propelled fire in Gardez District. Insurgents wounded five civilians in the surrounding area. All wounded were taken to the Gardez Hospital for treatment where one woman died from her wounds.

Operations in RC-East are still ongoing.

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Iraq bombing kills three members of same family

BAGHDAD: Unknown attackers blew up a house north of the Iraqi capital Sunday, killing three members of a family including a five-year-old boy and also wounding a two-year-old girl, an interior ministry official said.

"Unknown gunmen planted three bombs around a house made of mud and reeds in the Taji area, causing it to completely collapse and killing a father, mother and a five-year-old boy," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The bombs exploded at about 4:00 am (0100 GMT), the official said, adding that a two-year-old girl survived but was wounded and taken to hospital.
from dailystar
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Al-Qaida gunmen kidnap government official in southeast Yemen

ADEN, Yemen, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Suspected al-Qaida gunmen kidnapped a Yemeni government official in the southeastern province of Hadramout on Sunday morning, a police officer told Xinhua.

Ahmed Juman, a security director of the Reida district in the east of Hadramout's provincial capital of Mukalla, was snatched from a main road near his residence by unknown gunmen believed to belong to the al-Qaida terrorist group, the police officer said on condition of anonymity.

The abductors put Juman in a pickup vehicle, taking him towards the insurgents-controlled town of Azzan in neighboring Shabwa province, the officer said.

Meanwhile, a security official told Xinhua anonymously that a roadside bomb killed three civilians in Qutun area in Hadramout when it struck their vehicle.

"A civilian car ran over a landmine which was planted by insurgents on the main road in an attempt to target vehicles of the security forces, leaving three civilians killed," the official said.

On March 22, the al-Qaida militants claimed responsibility for killing a Yemeni intelligence officer after kidnapping him also in Mukalla.

Several security and intelligence officials have been assassinated or kidnapped in recent months in southern Yemen, where hundreds of al-Qaida militants have overrun several cities due to security vacuum during last year's political upheaval.

In recent months, militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch have carried out large-scale attacks and suicide bombings against government troops across the country's lawless southern regions.
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ISAF forces repel failed suicide attack on FOB Finley-Shields - RC-East PAO

Jalalabad District is located in the north-wes...
Jalalabad District is located in the north-west of Nangarhar Province. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Insurgents here attacked an ISAF installation located here in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, at 1:53 p.m., April 15, allegedly killing one civilian with a vehicular-borne suicide bomb and small arms fire. Three insurgents were killed and one wounded and captured in the attack.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., a large explosion occurred outside Forward Operating Base Fenty, near the airfield located in Jalalabad. The attack caused no damage or injuries to the installation.

According to the Nangahar Governor’s Office, Afghan Security Forces responded to the scene of the explosion and captured 26 RPG rockets and two launchers, 1 PK-machine gun with 500 rounds, three AK-47 assault rifles, nine hand grenades, one pistol and several master keys. Four dead insurgents were recovered at the scene of the explosion.

The attack on Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields, which was quickly repulsed by the base defenders, sparked a fire on the base.

The incidents are currently under investigation.

video from Pajhwok:

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Swiss woman taken by gunmen in Mali's Timbuktu

(Reuters) - A Swiss woman who had stayed in the northern Malian town of Timbuktu after it was captured by Tuareg and Islamist rebels was taken from her house by unidentified gunmen on Sunday, a witness and several sources in the town said.

Yehia Tandina, one of the town's residents, said the woman, whom she identified only as Beatrice, was seized by armed men in turbans on Sunday afternoon. A neighbor of the Swiss woman who asked not to be named confirmed the incident.

A spokesman for the Swiss foreign ministry in the Swiss capital Berne said the ministry was looking into the report.

A mix of Tuareg separatist and Islamist rebels captured Timbuktu on April 1 in the final leg of their lightning advance southwards through Mali's desert north as government forces retreated in the chaotic aftermath of a coup in the capital.

The woman taken was described by several sources as a missionary who had lived in the town for a number of years and spoke several local languages.

"She is very well known in the town. She would walk around the town trying to convert people (to Christianity)," a resident of the town told Reuters, asking not to be named.
The sources said she was seized in the Abaradjou neighborhood.

Timbuktu, known for centuries as a key trading town in the Sahara and a seat of Islamic learning, had become a top tourist destination in Mali. But insecurity in recent years - including the abduction of several foreigners there by al Qaeda last year - had reduced visitors to a trickle.

In the days leading to the capture, most resident Westerners had left the town due to fears of being kidnapped and passed on to al Qaeda cells. Tuareg MNLA rebels smuggled two British citizens and a Frenchman out of the town following the rebel assault.

AQIM, al Qaeda's North African wing, which operates in the zone and has links to the Islamist rebels, is already holding 13 Westerners and has earned millions of dollars from ransom payments from previous kidnappings in recent years.

The declaration of a Tuareg rebel homeland in northern Mali has raised fears among Western security experts that the remote, inhospitable zone could become a secure haven for al Qaeda and a "rogue state" in West Africa.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday it was essential to prevent a "terrorist or Islamic state" emerging in northern Mali.

(Reporting by David Lewis and Adama Diarra; Additional reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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New explosions rock Kabul after Afghan forces repel earlier attacks

continues updates on twitter:

more videos at the bottom:
reuters, telegraph, rt, pajhwok, tolonews

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A series of explosions rocked central Kabul early Monday, the day after Afghan security forces said they repulsed a series of insurgent attacks in the capital and three other provinces.

The blasts followed periodic gunfire that lasted well into Sunday night in the Kabul district that houses allied embassies. But Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said the remaining insurgents "have no choice except surrendering or to be killed by the Afghan forces."

"They came today with more than 20 insurgents and suicide bombers and attacked four provinces," Seddiqi told CNN Sunday. "As a result, they got nothing, and 19 of them were killed."
The U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, said the Afghans beat back the insurgents without allied assistance.

"They were on scene immediately, well-led and well-coordinated," Allen said. "They integrated their efforts, helped protect their fellow citizens and largely kept the insurgents contained." He said the attacks were meant to signal "that legitimate governance and Afghan sovereignty are in peril," but the Afghan response "is proof enough of that folly."

Seddiqi said two civilians were killed across the country, and 15 Afghan police officers were wounded. He said 15 of 19 suicide bombers were stopped before they could blow themselves up, with most of them killed by Afghan security forces.

And Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, said three men arrested in Kabul confessed to plotting to kill Karim Khalil, Afghanistan's second vice president. Two of the men planned to blow themselves up in Khalil's home, Mashal said.

The Taliban militia that once ruled most of Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it launched fighters into battle with suicide vests, RPGs and hand grenades in Kabul and the provinces of Nangarhar, Paktia and Logar. But Mashal said the three men who targeted Khalil confessed to being members of the Haqqani network, a separate insurgent group that sometimes allies itself with the Taliban.

from CNN

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R.I.P. - Sgt. Tanner S. Higgins

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Sgt. Tanner S. Higgins, 23, of Yantis, Texas, died Apr. 14 in Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

            For more information please contact 75th Ranger Regiment public affairs office at 706-545-4260 or 706-604-5114.

Officials said he was on his third deployment to Afghanistan in support of the War on Terror. He deployed to Iraq once.

Higgins enlisted in the Army in 2007, straight out of high school. He was trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he also graduated from the Basic Airborne Course and Ranger Assessment and Selection Program.

Higgins was assigned to his company in July 2008 and had since served as a rifleman, grenadier, automatic rifleman, gun team leader and a Ranger team leader.

His military education included the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, U.S. Army Ranger Course, Emergency Medical Technician Basic Course, U.S. Army Sniper School, and he was a Warrior Leader Course Distinguished Leadership Awardee.

Awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Parachutist Badge and the U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge.

Higgins has also been awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with one Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.

He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart.

Higgins is survived by his wife Shelby Lynn Higgins of Savannah, Georgia, his father Danny R. Higgins of Hurst, Texas, and his mother Patti D. Sells of Tybee Island, Georgia.

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Apr.15., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Apr. 15) — An Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to capture a Taliban leader in Shah Wali Kot district, Kandahar province, today.The leader directed attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout Khakrez district. He also provided insurgents in Khakrez district with weapons, ammunition and equipment.As the security force moved toward the leader’s suspected location, multiple insurgents opened fire on the Afghan and coalition troops.  The force returned fire, killing the insurgent leader and several other insurgents who were armed with AK-47s, a sniper rifle, a pistol, and multiple grenades.Security forces also discovered multiple rocket-propelled grenade rounds, a mortar tube with mortar rounds and blasting caps, and detained one additional insurgent as a result of this operation. 
In other ISAF news throughout Afghanistan: 
An Afghan led security force captured a Taliban leader during an operation in Baghlan-e Jadid district, Baghlan province, today. The leader directed roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the district.The leader was apprehended in a building assessed to be a mosque.  Afghan Soldiers conducted the search, fired no shots, and no property was damaged. Coalition troops did not enter the building.
The security force detained multiple additional insurgents as a result of this operation. 
In Nad ‘Ali district, Helmand province, an Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to capture a Taliban leader today. The leader oversees Taliban operations in Marjeh district including roadside bomb and other attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces.  He also attempts to enforce Taliban law on the Afghan civilians in the area.  The security force detained several suspected insurgents as a result of this operation. 
An Afghan and coalition security force called for a precision airstrike during an operation in Nerkh district, Wardak province, today. Multiple insurgents were observed in the vicinity of Highway 1 setting up a heavy machine gun in preparation for an ambush.  After ensuring no civilians were in the vicinity of the target, the security force called for the airstrike. The strike killed multiple insurgents and destroyed the machine gun. A follow-on assessment of the area determined no civilians were harmed and no civilian property was damaged. 
In Khugyani district, Ghazni province, an Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation to capture a Taliban leader today. The leader supervises roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the district. He also targets local Afghan officials and attempts to enforce Taliban law on Afghan civilians. The security force detained multiple suspected insurgents and seized one artillery round and one mortar round as a result of this operation. 
Finally, an Afghan led security force conducted an operation to capture a Haqqani leader in Sabari district, Khost province, today. The leader coordinates roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the district. He also supplies weapons and ammunition to insurgents in the area. The security force detained several suspected insurgents and seized one military uniform, a grenade and 100 rounds of small arms ammunition as a result of this operation.
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