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US Troops Destroy Taleban Munitions, Capture 27 - 2002-01-25

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have destroyed a massive Taleban munitions stockpile following a raid that left some 15 suspected Taleban fighters dead and resulted in the capture of 27 others.

Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem of the Pentagon's Joint Staff said Friday the munitions stockpile was destroyed by an AC-130 flying gunship called in after U.S. ground forces raided two compounds north of Kandahar.

Admiral Stufflebeem outlined the munitions that were discovered, "More than 400 60-millimeter mortar rounds, more than 300 rocket-propelled grenades, some 300 100-millimeter rockets and thousands of rocket fuses. More than 250 automatic grenade-launcher rounds and more than half a million small-arms rounds," he said.

The admiral said the destruction of the munitions triggered significant secondary explosions.

He said the 27 Afghan fighters captured in the raid are still being screened. He said he has no new information on who they are or what they were doing.

However other Pentagon officials indicate they may include some relatively senior Taleban officials.

The United States is now holding more than 450 Taleban and al-Qaida detainees, some of them at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

But top Taleban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar and al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden remain at large.

It is unclear whether U.S. forces thought either man might have been at the compounds raided Thursday. However Admiral Stufflebeem indicated the target had been under observation for some time and that ground forces staged a raid as opposed to bombing the facility in hopes of taking captives.