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American Forces Press Service

Insurgents Captured; Former Taliban Reconcile With Afghan Government

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2005 Afghan and coalition forces apprehended 17 insurgents armed with rifles along the Pakistani border June 6, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan reported today.

The insurgents, now in coalition custody, had automatic rifles, Taliban-sponsored reading material and letters threatening Afghans not to cooperate with Afghan and coalition forces, according to CFCA officials.

"That the (insurgent forces) are forced to resort to threatening letters tells us they are afraid and incapable of operating in sight of Afghan citizens have to use violence and the threat of violence to coerce cooperation from Afghans," said Army Brig. Gen. John Sterling, Combined Joint Task Force 76's deputy commander.

"Afghans know that the government of Afghanistan has already made life here measurably better then it was under the oppressive rule of the Taliban and that each day brings the promise of a better, brighter, more secure future," Sterling noted.

The insurgents were to be transferred to the detainee holding facility at Afghanistan's Bagram Airfield.

In other news, two former Taliban commanders have reconciled with the government of Afghanistan and turned in a large cache of weapons and ammunition near Mehtar Lam in Laghman province, CFCA officials also reported today.

The two former commanders have sworn allegiance to the Afghan government under the provision of the Takhim-E Solh, or Strengthening Peace, program. It allows insurgents to renounce violence and join Afghan society.

The weapons turn-in included more than 60 AK-47 assault rifles, dozens of bolt-action rifles, three Russian-manufactured machine guns, more than 35 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, two mortar-launching systems with 75 mortar rounds, one recoilless rifle, one armored vehicle, several thousand rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition, two anti-aircraft guns and several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition of various calibers.

"This is a great step forward for both of these men, for the Afghan government and for Afghanistan as a whole," said CJTF 76's Sterling. "A lot of individuals may fear they or their families will be persecuted if they return, but clearly, this is not the case. The action of these two men sends a clear message to all who may have been Taliban members that if you agree to work with the government and renounce violence, you will be treated fairly and allowed to live in peace."

Government officials in Mehtar Lam helped the former insurgents reconcile with Afghan society.

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