I’ve been a way for a couple of days and boy did I miss some important events in AfPak. First, a nice-sized direct action engagement in Laghman Province in Afghanistan.
From the Longwar Journal (September 25, 2010):
A combined Coalition and Afghan force killed more than 30 Taliban fighters during an air assault in the eastern Afghan province of Laghman.
A 250-man force of Coalition and Afghan troops as well as Afghan police air assaulted into the Alishang district in Laghman to conduct "security and clearing patrols" when they took fire from Taliban forces in the area, the International Secuirty Assistance Force stated in a press release.
ISAF claimed that more than 30 "enemy fighters" were killed during the clashes, and that there were no reports of civilian casualties.
Muhammad Iqbal Azizi, the Governor of Laghman, told Pajwok Afghan News that 31 Taliban were killed; he also denied reports that civilians were killed.
Local Afghans in Alishang claimed that some civilians were among those killed, and one even claimed that all of those killed were civilians. More than 200 people protested the operations, according to Pajwok.
Laghman was the scene of the Aug. 4 clash between Afghan forces and the Taliban and allied terror groups. A battalion of Afghan troops air assaulted into the Badpakh area and were stopped cold by a coordinated ambush. Thirteen Afghan troops and two policemen were killed and more than 10 were captured. At one point in the battle, the Afghan Army Corps headquarters lost communications with the battalion.
During the fighting in August, the Taliban were supported by the Lashkar al Zil, or the Shadow Army, al Qaeda's paramilitary force. One Arab and one Chechen were reported killed in the fighting in Laghman.
The Lashkar al Zil has been involved in some of the more high-profile, complex assaults in Afghanistan over the past several years, including an assault on a US outpost in Wanat in Nuristan in July 2008, the deadly ambush of a French battalion in Kabul province in August 2008, assaults on two combat outposts in Kamdesh in Nuristan in October 2009, and most recently, a sustained assault in the district of Barg-e-Matal in Nuristan in July 2010.
The Taliban and al Qaeda have been stepping up efforts in eastern Afghanistan as ISAF and Afghan forces focus on tamping down the insurgency in Kandahar and Helmand in the south, General Mohammad Zaman Mamozai, the commander of the Afghan Border Police in the east said in August. The Afghan Taliban "are being supported by other terrorist networks including Al Qaeda, Tajikistani, Chechen, and Pakistani Taliban," as well as Taliban fighters from Waziristan, Mamozai told Larawbar and BBC Urdu. According to Mamozai, the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters stage across the border in Pakistan's tribal agency of Bajaur. The top commanders are Arab, Pakistan, Chechen, or Tajiks, Mamozai said.