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Afghan National Police Shut Down Bomb-Making Cell

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7, 2008 – Afghan National Police arrested two suspected bomb makers during a Jan. 5 raid in the Bermel area of Afghanistan’s Paktika province, military officials said. The two suspects are implicated in a Nov. 12 improvised explosive device attack near Shkin that injured an Afghan soldier and a support technician. The Shkin police developed the intelligence that identified, located and targeted the suspected two-man insurgent cell. The suspects also are believed to have conducted other attacks using remote-controlled IEDs throughout the Bermel area.

During the raid of the insurgents’ compound, Afghan police investigators seized several IED-making components, weapons, cell phones and documents.

Meanwhile, Afghan and coalition forces detained several suspected Taliban insurgents in Jan. 2 operations near Mushan in Kandahar province’s Panjway district.

When the Afghan-led combined force entered the compound, insurgents attacked with small-arms fire, endangering several women and children who live there. The combined force secured the compound and detained several suspected insurgents with ties to the Taliban. A search of the area discovered fully-loaded weapons and additional ammunition. Several documents seized will provide useful intelligence on insurgent activities throughout western Kandahar province, officials said.

In other news, more than 700 weapons and various types of ammunition were turned in during December by Paktya province villagers working with local Afghan security forces, officials reported.

Alerting Afghan security forces of cache discoveries or turning in weapons to authorities shows that “Afghan citizens are tired of insurgent activity in their region,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force82 spokesman.

During December, Afghan and coalition security forces collected 247 rocket-propelled grenades and three launchers, 99 hand grenades, 124 anti-personnel mines, 11 82mm recoilless rifle rounds, 14 82mm mortars, 10 anti-tank mines, 200 anti-tank mine fuses, three remote-controlled IEDs, four Kalashnikov automatic machine guns and two RPD automatic machine guns.

Afghan border and national police have led the effort to rid the area of illegal weapons commonly used by insurgents. The combined force has actively engaged with tribal leaders, village elders and Afghan citizens throughout the province to convince them to root out weapons stores, officials said.

Afghan border and national police “are working closely with citizens during their patrols to keep these weapons off the battlefield,” Belcher said. Because of these efforts, “Afghans feel more secure and are willing to provide information leading to cache recovery,” he said.

Most weapons caches were discovered when villagers alerted Afghan security forces patrolling the province. Other times, villagers brought the weapons to a military outpost in the Chamkani district shared by Afghan and coalition forces.

Afghan citizens “want to do the right thing," Belcher said. “Getting these weapons off the street and out of the hands of insurgents will make the area safer for everyone.”

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)

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