Forces in Afghanistan Kill 61 Enemy Fighters, Capture 20

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, May 19, 2006 - A series of continuous
offensive operations May 17 and yesterday across eastern and southern
Afghanistan left 61 Taliban extremists dead and 20 others captured,
military officials here reported today.

Afghan National Police and coalition forces killed a reported 60 enemy
fighters and captured 20 during a battle in the village of Musa Qalah
in Helmand province May 17, Copmbined Forces Command Afghanistan
officials said. The joint force pursued the fighters after receiving reports
of a large enemy force moving from Musa Qalah. Sixteen police were
killed and 20 were wounded in the conflict.

"Extremists terrorized the town of Musa Qalah overnight, setting fires
and attacking government agencies," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin
Freakley, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76. "The ANP rapidly
responded to drive them out with great success. Our thoughts and prayers
are with the families of the 16 brave police officers who sacrificed
their lives defending the people of Musa Qalah."

In a separate operation in the Bahrami District of Ghazni province
yesterday, ANP and coalition forces engaged about 30 extremists with small
arms and mortar fire in the village of Godale Shamshir in Ghazni
province. A policeman and an enemy combatant were killed in the firefight.

During the engagement, coalition attack aircraft provided close-air
support and conducted strikes on enemy positions.

"Afghan national security forces are seeking out and destroying the
extremists who threaten the Afghan people and who stand in the way of
growth and progress," Freakley said. "There will be no sanctuary afforded
the enemy, and no respite."

Taliban extremists claim to have mounted a spring offensive in southern
Afghanistan, but Afghan and coalition forces "have clearly demonstrated
they have seized and maintained the initiative, and are capable of
conducting simultaneous combat operations throughout the country where ever
the enemy attempts to move," according to a Combined Forces Command
Afghanistan statement.

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