Coalition, Afghan forces battle Taliban in Uruzgan

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Map of Afghanistan’s provinces. Click map to view larger image.

Fighting has intensified in Afghanistan’s southern province of Uruzgan. Taliban forces have been attempting to overrun a district center and have massed for several attacks. More than 70 Taliban fighters, including a senior commander, were killed in the fighting.

The fighting began on Oct. 21, when more than 100 Taliban fighters massed to attack the Coalition and Afghan forces in the distinct of Dah Rawood. A joint Afghan and Coalition patrol ran across the Taliban formation, and were attacked with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

The joint Coalition and Afghan force counterattacked, and with the help of helicopter gunships they destroyed the Taliban force, inflicting casualties of more than 50 percent. Fifty-five Taliban fighters were confirmed killed in the battle. The US military said no Afghan or Coalition casualties were taken, but an Afghan official said three Afghan police were killed in the fighting.

Coalition forces followed up the battle with a targeted airstrike aimed at a senior Taliban leader in the region. The attack resulted in the death of Taliban commander Sharif Agha and 14 of his fighters. “Agha was a known improvised explosive device and suicide bombing facilitator in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces,” the US military said in a press release.

Agha’s death occurred just one day after a Coalition strike in neighboring Helmand province killed Mullah Ghafar and two other fighters. Ghafar and his force of more than 500 Taliban fighters operated along the border between Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province. He is also thought to have been behind numerous attacks in Farah and Nimruz province.

Today, Coalition and Afghan forces killed three Taliban fighters after coming under attack from a compound in the Khas Uruzgan district. One Coalition and one Afghan soldier were wounded in the fighting.

Since last year the fighting has spiked in Uruzgan, where the number of Taliban-related incidents has nearly tripled. Forty-nine Taliban related attacks were reported between January through September 2007, according to numbers compiled by Sami Kovanen, the Security Coordinator for Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan. There have been 130 attacks from January to September this year.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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