Attack on patrol prompts assualt on Taliban compound killing 50

AP/Houston Chronicle:

U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan troops fought two separate battles with militants in southern Afghanistan, killing more than 60 suspected Taliban insurgents, officials said today.

Coalition forces and Afghan troops attacked a cluster of buildings in Helmand province that militants have been using to launch attacks. More than 50 Taliban were killed and several others were wounded in the 12-hour gunbattle that ended early Thursday.

"Coalition air support dropped two bombs on the compounds with the greatest concentration of insurgents," a coalition statement said. "Both compounds produced significant secondary explosions immediately suggesting a large quantity of explosive material was present in each."

The clash happened near the village of Musa Qala, where a peace deal struck last year with local elders effectively ceded control of the area to Taliban fighters. The agreement between the elders and the Helmand government prevents NATO and Taliban forces from entering the town, but militants still use the area as a staging ground for raids against Afghan and foreign troops.

Militants recently attacked a coalition patrol with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, prompting the assault on the compound. A coalition soldier broke his hand during the fight, the coalition said.

"They are using Musa Qala as a base of support and it is believed that they will stay and defend the area rather than use their normal hit-and-run tactics," the coalition said.

In neighboring Kandahar province, Afghan troops clashed with the Taliban for three hours leaving 10 suspected militants and one policemen dead, said Sayed Afghan Saqib, Kandahar provincial police chief.

...

This seems to be pretty typical of Taliban operations with the exception that in this one so far there has been no claim of civilian casualties which usually occur when the Taliban use human shields.While this operation was a success, the story was buried in the Chronicle and did not make the main pages of the papers in New York or Washington. I can guarantee that if the enemy killed 60 of our forces or 60 non combatants it would be front page news by the media what wants t lose the war.

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