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Daily Archives: April 11, 2009

US military says 32 militants killed in Afghanistan

The US military said yesterday that forces under its command killed 32 militants in overnight battles and air strikes across southern Afghanistan, the main battlefield in the Taliban-led insurgency.
One of battles erupted in the province of Helmand when insurgents attacked a patrol of Afghan and US-led coalition troops Thursday, a statement said.
"The friendly forces responded with small-arms fire, heavy weapons and close-air support, resulting in the deaths of 15 enemies of Afghanistan," it said in a statement.
The fighting happened near the provincial capital Lashkar Gah where Afghan authorities also reported heavy fighting overnight, claiming that 36 Taliban were killed although they had the bodies of only seven.
Another US military statement said a dozen more insurgents were killed in Uruzgan province after another attack on an Afghan and coalition patrol.
"The combined force responded with small-arms, rocket-propelled grenade and close-air support fire, killing 12 insurgents," it said.
Also Thursday, Afghan and coalition forces killed five "combatants" in Kandahar province's Maywand district, an earlier statement said.
The troops raided a cell "directly linked" to a suicide attack that killed four Afghan civilians and a coalition forces member in January, it said.
The force could not immediately confirm exactly to which attack it was referring.
A suicide attack in the district killed two US soldiers and two Afghans on January 8, but there was a rash of attacks that month, when 25 international soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan.
In 1996 the Taliban rose from Kandahar to sweep into government in Kabul. They were ousted in a US-led invasion in late 2001 that sent many of their leaders and their allies in Al-Qaeda into sanctuaries across in Pakistan.

US ship captain fails in attempt to escape from pirates

The US ship captain being held hostage by pirates off Somalia jumped off the lifeboat where he was being held early yesterday but failed to escape his captors, US networks reported.
Captain Richard Phillips jumped into the water during the night and tried to swim towards the nearby US destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, but pirates jumped in and recaptured him, three US television networks reported.
US military officials told CNN that Phillips was in good condition and that the pirates did not hurt him.
The Bainbridge, accompanied by a P-3 Orion surveillance plane, was preventing the pirates from moving their hostage to a larger ship.
Meanwhile Vice Admiral William Gortney, the commander of the US 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, told CNN that negotiations between officers on the Bainbridge backed by FBI experts and the pirates were continuing.
"We have the USS Bainbridge on station currently negotiating with the pirates to get our American citizen back," Gortney told CNN.
Gortney said a key concern was that the pirates were in touch with clan members on the mainland and could try to draw reinforcements to the standoff.
"They are communicating. With communication possibly comes coordination, cooperation with each other," Gortney said.
Somali pirates have attacked numerous ships in the area in recent months, but this was the first attempted hijacking of a US-crewed vessel – an act Gortney said represented a new stage in the piracy crisis.
"We always thought that one of the potential game changers out there was the US flag – with US citizens onboard. And we're there and that's where we are right now," he said.
The pirates are demanding a ransom to free Phillips, a pirate commander Abdi Garad told AFP by telephone yesterday from Somalia's northern pirate lair of Eyl, without specifying the amount.
Garad also said their men were negotiating with the US navy "not to be arrested if they release the captain."

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