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Insurgents driven out of Shah Wali Kot
16 June 2010

 

Taliban networks have suffered a major blow following operations by Afghan security troops and Australian Special Forces in northern Kandahar province.

The large scale offensive against Taliban insurgents in the district of Shah Wali Kot, was part of  the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF's) Hamkari initiative, an ongoing civil-military activity aimed at bringing security, governance and economic opportunity to the people of Kandahar.

The five-day Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) and Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) operation involved heavy fighting,  resulting in the deaths of a significant number of insurgents.

On day two, the large-scale contact lasted over thirteen hours. Following their arrival by helicopter, the combined force was immediately engaged by insurgents using small arms and machine gun fire. Over a four-and-a-half-hour period, the Taliban used concealed fighting positions and access to aqueducts and creek lines to  mount sustained fire against the coalition force.

The combined force suffered two casualties from gunshot wounds; one Australian soldier was wounded in the arm  and  a partnered Afghan ANSF officer was struck in the side.  While under fire from insurgents, both were rapidly aero-medically evacuated to Tarin Kowt where they are recovering.

A large number of weapons were recovered after the contact including assault rifles, heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers and several radio handsets.

The Commander of Australian Forces in the Middle East, Major General John Cantwell was particularly happy with the outcome of the offensive.

"Through the Shah Wali Kot offensive, the combined coalition force has severely disrupted an important insurgent stronghold. They inflicted substantial losses on a determined and heavily armed enemy force," he said.

Another positive to come out of the operation is that insurgents will no longer have a staging area from which to transit into Oruzgan province, which is expected to benefit security along with disrupting a key supply route.

Local community members will now meet with the ANSF and Australian troops to plan ways for the Government of Afghanistan to assist in preventing Taliban insurgents from returning.

Commander of the Special Operations Task Group, Lieutenant Colonel P said the local population of Shah Wali Kot was grateful to the Afghan and Australian forces for pushing out the insurgents who had occupied their villages and forced them to provide food and shelter.

"By removing the insurgents from where they were not welcome, we have strengthened the community's resolve to keep out the Taliban," he said