Canadian troops shut down bomb-making facility
Published Sunday, December 9, 2007 11:29AM EST
Canadian forces clashed with the Taliban in Panjwaii district Saturday during a raid to disrupt bomb-making in the area.
CTV's Murray Oliver told CTV Newsnet from Kandahar on Sunday that the one-day raid by Canadian and Afghan forces, as well as troops from Nepal, ended with the destruction of at least one facility.
Military officials said a number of Taliban forces were killed and that no Canadians were hurt during the raid.
One Afghan soldier did receive minor wounds to the eye in a "friendly fire" incident, Oliver said.
"There's been a real problem with bombs being planted all throughout the area, and attacking Canadian convoys," he said.
In November, three separate bomb explosions rocked Canadian troops. Two soldiers died -- Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamp and Pte. Michel Levesque. Beauchamp, 28, was with the 5th Field Ambulance and Levesque, 25, was a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment -- also known as the Van Doos. They were buried Saturday.
Panjwaii district is an active Taliban area 35 kilometres west of Kandahar city. Several battles have been fought there between NATO forces and the Taliban.
In September 2006, Operation Medusa -- a Canadian-led offensive in Panjawaii -- resulted in the deaths of five Canadian soldiers. NATO officials said 512 Taliban members were killed and 136 more were captured during the offensive, breaking the insurgents' hold on the district.
But insurgents have repeatedly re-entered the area despite a presence by the Canadian military and Afghan police.
"The Taliban seem to have a nearly limitless supply of troops, unfortunately. They continue to just keep pouring men into the area to try and show that they still can maintain a presence as soon as the Canadians pull out," Oliver said.
Taliban activities usually slow during the winter when supply routes through the mountains get covered in snow. But whether this winter will follow that pattern is unknown, he said.
Two Taliban commanders captured in Helmand province
Afghan and NATO-led forced captured two senior Taliban commanders during an attempt to retake a town in Afghanistan's Helmand province, officials said Sunday.
The Afghan Defence Ministry said one of the captives is the Taliban-appointed governor of Helmand - an area of southern Afghanistan that has become a major drug trafficking centre.
Afghan and British troops continue to advance on the town of Musa Qala.
The Afghan Defence Ministry told fighters in the town they should lay down their weapons or face a "wave of attacks."
A Taliban commander told The Associated Press that fighters from neighbouring districts are coming to join the fight.
Lt. Col. Richard Eaton, a British military spokesman, said the offensive would take a couple of days to unfold and that Afghan forces would hold the town afterwards.
"We're not going to take something that we haven't got a plan to hold," Eaton said. "We're not going to take something and then give it up and let the Taliban back in."
British troops had a presence in Musa Qala, which sits in the middle of Afghanistan's main poppy belt, but withdrew in October 2006 after a controversial agreement that gave security responsibility to Afghan elders.
In February 2007, the Taliban swept into town and have remained in control ever since.
At least 12 fighters, two children and a British solider have been killed in the current fighting near the town.
The Associated Press estimates that more than 6,200 people have died in insurgency-related violence this year -- the worst total since the U.S.-led invasion of late 2001.
With files from The Associated Press