Two-day NATO offensive sees 80 captured, over 200 fatalities

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Sunday, September 3, 2006

Nato claims that numerous Taliban have been killed and 80 captured as a result of a major two-day NATO offensive in southern Afghanistan which also saw the deaths of four Canadian NATO soldiers. On Saturday, a British military reconnaisance plane supporting the operation crashed killing all 17 on board.

The stated objective of the offensive is to gain control of the Taliban stronghold of Panjwaii, an area covering roughly between 20 and 40 kilometres of terrain west of Kandahar city.

"Reports indicate that more than 200 Taliban fighters have been killed since Operation Medusa began early Saturday morning," said a NATO spokesman. The Afghan Defense Ministry, however, puts the number of Taliban dead at 89.

Approximately 2,000 NATO and Afghan soldiers are fighting as part of Operation Medusa, the largest military operation in southern Afghanistan since July when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force replaced US-led forces in the region. Most of the NATO combat units are from the Canadian military which reports that its casualites were sustained in fighting around Panjwayi district. British, American, Dutch and Danish troops are also involved in the offensive.

Ground troops engaged in fierce fighting have been supported by artillery and air strikes against enemy forces using rocket-fired grenades and small arms.

"This operation, which is continuing on tomorrow, has inflicted severe damage to the Taliban capability," says Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser. "We will continue operations here. We're making good progress."

According to NATO spokesperson Major Scott Lundy, the coalition forces have gained ground and disrupted the Taliban command and control.

The operation had "special emphasis on driving out the insurgents so Afghans in Panjwayi district can return to their homes and orchards that sustained their livelihoods," according to NATO.

British forces have denied that the Nimrod MR2 reconnaisance plane was shot down by the Taliban. Instead, they say, it was brought down by a technical fault.

The 4 Canadian deaths bring to 30 the number of Canadians killed since Canadian Forces joined the conflict in 2002.

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Wikipedia Learn more about Taliban insurgency and Canada's role in the invasion of Afghanistan on Wikipedia.