Coalition Dogs Chase Down Insurgents-Bite Them
Associated Press, from the International Herald Tribune
KABUL, Afghanistan: U.S.-led forces have killed more than 36 insurgents in a series of clashes and airstrikes in southern Afghanistan, the coalition said Friday. A militant attack on NATO patrol killed two alliance’s troops.
Groups of militants began launching attacks Wednesday on a coalition reconnaissance patrol in the south, using rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and small arms fire, the coalition said.
Coalition troops “returned fire with small arms and close air support,” destroying several vehicles and killing more than three dozen insurgents, the statement said. Capt. Christian Patterson, a coalition spokesman said the operation is still ongoing. He would not disclose the exact location of the clashes.
Southern Afghanistan is the center of a six-year-old Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan that is gaining strength and spreading to the east. At least 93 U.S. troops have died in the country so far this year, a pace that would make 2008 the deadliest for American forces since the 2001 invasion.
In a separate incident, militants attacked a NATO patrol with a roadside bomb and small arms fire in eastern Afghanistan Friday, killing two troops, the alliance said in a statement. NATO did not provide further details on the attack and did not release the nationalities of those killed. But most of the troops in the area are American.
The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan reported Friday an unusual operation involving dogs that were used to attack and help capture at least two suspected Taliban militants fleeing coalition forces.
The dogs bit two of the fleeing militants in the operation Thursday in eastern Paktika province, which targeted a wanted Taliban subcommander, a coalition statement said.
“Two militants attempted to flee and were pursued by coalition military working dogs,” the statement said. “Both militants received dog-bite injuries, one of which required treatment on scene by coalition medical personnel.”
Reports of using dogs to attack militants in Afghanistan are rare, though dogs employed by the coalition have been seen at checkpoints and are used to sniff for explosives. Last month a British dog handler and his dog we shot dead while on patrol in southern Helmand province.
In Islamic tradition, dogs are shunned as unclean and dangerous. But dog-fighting is a popular sport in Afghanistan, a conservative Muslim country.
1st Lt. Nathan Perry, a coalition spokesman, would not say what kind of dogs were used in the raid, but said the troops will “use dogs when we need to.”
Eight suspected insurgents were detained in the operation, including the two bitten by the dogs. Perry said he did not know if the targeted Taliban subcommander was among those detained and the statement did not specify
In other violence, a roadside bomb in Helmand province Friday killed four police and wounded five, said Mohammad Hussein Andiwal, the provincial police chief.
In the province’s Marjah district, Taliban militants attacked a high school serving 300 students late Thursday, burning books and classrooms, Andiwal said.
Elsewhere in the south, a battle between militants and police late Thursday killed four insurgents, said Juma Gul Himat, the provincial police chief of Uruzgan province. He said one policeman was wounded.
More than 3,200 people have died in violence across Afghanistan so far this year, according to an Associated Press tally of figures provided by Afghan and Western officials.