View Full Version : Taliban ambush Canadian troops on patrol in southern Afghanistan

21 Jul 06,, 20:25
Taliban ambush Canadian troops on patrol in southern Afghanistan

Ethan Baron, CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, July 21, 2006
DARVISHAN, Afghanistan -- Taliban fighters ambushed a Canadian patrol here with rockets and small arms fire Thursday as the soldiers attempted to extend coalition control over the town.

Military brass had ordered the troops, scheduled to return to the Kandahar Airfield Base earlier this week, to stay in the field and secure two government district centres.

One, in Nawa, was secured Tuesday without a fight. The troops' return to base has now been delayed until Saturday as they wait for British forces to take over the operation in Darvishan.

Following the noon-time ambush on Two Platoon, Canadian armoured vehicles and ground troops were sent in from a nearby patrol base.

They immediately came under fire from two Taliban positions. Soldiers crossed a footbridge over a canal, took cover behind a metre-high mud wall, then fired machine guns and assault rifles and launched grenades in the directions of incoming fire.

Five light-armoured vehicles (LAVs) had pulled up onto a road parallel to the mud wall and blasted rapid-fire explosive cannon rounds and vehicle-mounted machine guns at Taliban positions.

Several Taliban RPG rockets flew over over the heads of the soldiers on the ground. The troops pulled back along with the ambushed group. Canadian artillery fired shells that exploded a few dozen metres off the ground with deafening roars, sending hot shrapnel ricocheting off the armoured vehicles and the walls of nearby buildings.

Insurgent fire ceased, and the Canadian platoons withdrew a few hundred metres through town before returning to the district centre, and their patrol base across the Helmand River.

Canadian forces believe they killed two or three of the five or six Taliban fighters involved in the ambush. There were no Canadian casualties.

Two Platoon has occupied the district centre and Canadian troops intend to hold it until the handover to the British expected Saturday.

"We have to re-establish the government's authority in these districts, and the district centres are symbolic of government authority," said Lt Col. Ian Hope, commander of the Canadian Battle Group in Afghanistan. "The Taliban are trying to do a counter-offensive to our offensive operations. They're trying to show they still have fight in them."

In recent weeks, Canadian troops have moved beyond their operating area in Kandahar province to assist British and U.S. forces here in Helmand province, a Taliban hotbed and opium production centre believed to be a hub for movement of insurgent weapons and fighters.

Commanders on Thursday were planning offensive operations for today around the district centre in Darvishan, a dusty town surrounded by desert and irrigated farmland where camels and goats graze among domestic compounds with high mud walls.

The troops here, along with the other Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, are scheduled to rotate out and go home next month from the Kandahar Airfield Base.

Most have spent more time in the field, sleeping on hard ground and eating packaged rations than they have at the base where hot showers, flush toilets and fresh meals are available.

Many were disappointed at the delay in returning to the base, but the soldiers are used to adapting to changes of orders.

"We're doing our job you know staying alive, safe and hoping it stays that way until we go back," said Corporal Nathan Dart. "I can't wait to go home and see my wife."

CanWest News Service 2006