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Coalition Forces Battle Rebels in Kandahar - 2003-01-29


In Kandahar province, in the mountains of southern Afghanistan, U.S. and coalition forces have been battling a band of rebels not far from the southern border town of Spin Boldak. U.S. special forces troops with Afghan militia support were clearing a compound when they came under fire late Monday morning. U.S. army spokesman, Colonel Roger King.

COL. ROGER KING
"The coalition forces returned fire, killing one, wounding one, and detaining a third man.”

The prisoner indicated about 80 rebels were in the area. AH-64 helicopters were called in and were fired on from the ground. The 'copters returned fire and asked for a quick reaction force from the U.S. 82nd airborne along with close air support.

COL. ROGER KING
And over the course of the next 12 to 14 hours, it was provided by U.S. Air Force B-1-B bombers, Coalition F-16s, and United States Air Force AC-130 gun ships during the hours of darkness.”

These, in addition to the helicopters, called in earlier. Colonel king says, the b-ones dropped a total of 19 2,000-pound bombs and coalition F-16's dropped two 500-pound guided bombs, known as "G-B-U-12s".

COL. ROGER KING
"At least 18 enemy personnel have been killed, no Coalition casualties have been reported.”

But, Afghan government officials now put those numbers at 22 of the enemy killed, 11 captured". U.S. intelligence (reports) lead the special forces to Believe they are most closely aligned with the Hezb-e-islami movement. It's the military arm of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, former Afghan prime minister turned warlord.

COL. ROGER KING
"We've had reports over the past several months that's he's been attempting to consolidate with remnants of al-Qaeda, Taliban".

At last report, the action continued, against the largest concentration of enemy forces since "Operation Anaconda" last March. Lieutenant-colonel Michael Shields is the 82nd airborne's operations officer.

LT. COL. MICHAEL SHIELDS
"The threat still exists. There are still anti-coalition forces that exist in this country. I think this is a good indication of that".

And Colonel Shields says this operation is, in his words, "likely to take some time" because of the rugged terrain and the number of caves involved.

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