13 Feb 2007

PR# 2007-099

ISAF and ANA clear enemy from key dam

HELMAND, Afghanistan - Yesterday, ISAF troops from the UK Royal Marine Commandos cleared a stronghold of Taliban extremists to help bring stability and power to Afghanistan.

More than 300 ISAF troops, supported by the Afghan National Army (ANA), cleared a large area near Kajaki, northern Helmand containing around 60 compounds, which has been the site of regular enemy mortar attacks over the past two months.

The clearance was part of an ongoing operation to create a safe-zone around the Kajaki Hydro-Electric Dam to allow engineers to re-enter the area and bring the dam up to full power. Once fully operational the dam will bring electricity to 1.8 million people in Afghanistan.

Sayed Rasul, the dam’s manager and senior engineer, said “The dam needs a lot of maintenance and another turbine in order for it to work more efficiently. Once this happens and the local surrounding area is safer, the dam will provide electricity for millions of local Afghans and create jobs for thousands.”

ISAF troops have been based in the area of Kajaki clearing compounds for the past six weeks. The area has become deserted of civilians forced from their homes by enemy activity and leaving the dam largely unserviceable.

ISAF and ANA soldiers regularly receive enemy small arms fire, mortar and rockets from extremists firing from the villages surrounding Kajaki. Last week 25 enemy compounds were cleared during Operation Volcano.

At 6 a.m. Sunday morning ISAF forces supported by the ANA, began Operation Kryptonite to clear the areas of Shomali Ghulbah and Chinah, north west of Kajaki.

With helicopters providing air support, the troops cleared the well-fortified and high-walled compound while engaging in, at times, close fighting and receiving heavy small arms and RPG fire. The fire fights continued until 6 p.m. when the troops reached their objective and returned to base. There were no ISAF, ANA or civilian casualties.

Lt. Col. Rory Bruce, spokesman for UK forces in Helmand, said: “This is the latest part of an ongoing operation to clear the area around Kajaki. It is all part of setting the conditions for security in the area to allow Afghans to return to their homes. When fully operational the Kajaki Dam will bring electricity to the Afghan people, improve irrigation and provide large-scale employment opportunities in the local area.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/