[Story by Corporal Kyle McNally]
BADGHIS PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan commandos from the 9th Commando Kandak, assisted by coalition special operations forces, were attacked by insurgents during a routine presence patrol near Sakharai village, Murghab district, March 6.
The commando-led force was providing security on the village outskirts when approximately two insurgents opened fire on them with a medium machine gun from a remote position in the mountains.
After positively identifying the attackers as insurgents, the commando patrol leader made the decision to respond. Coalition aircraft then engaged them with a precision-guided munition.
Shortly after, six more insurgents returned to the same position to attempt to re-engage the commando force. Coalition aircraft once again engaged with precision-guided munitions, and killed the remaining six insurgents.
The commandos, along with coalition SOF, took extreme precautions when neutralizing the attackers, ensuring that no civilians were harmed and no property damage resulted. The closest village structures were over 2,000 meters away from the insurgent fighting position.
The commando leaders met with Sakharai village leaders after the incident to inform them of the situation and discuss options for further assistance. During the shura, village elders confirmed that no villagers had been killed by coalition forces.
However, a Taliban spokesman contacted Badghis provincial governor Delbar Jan Almar shortly after the incident, claiming that three children and two women had been killed by the coalition aircraft. Murghab district governor Hashem Habibi, said that this information is verifiably false, and was designed by insurgents to discredit the positive gains of the Afghan government.
Murghab district chief of police Israil Ibrahim Khan said that insurgents are simply attempting to strike fear into the people of Murghab through rumors.
“Insurgents have demonstrated a tendency to make audacious claims of civilian casualties,” said Maj. Ryan Bolling, a spokesman for Special Operations Task Force – West. “They are resorting to increasingly desperate tactics in an attempt to win favor with a population that no longer wants to support them.”
According to a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan spokesman, the 9th Commando Kandak and its coalition SOF partners are resolved to protecting local communities in the Badghis province from insurgent attempts to gain ground through violence, fear and intimidation of the Afghan people.
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