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Suspect Captured In Blast That Killed 2 CDN Soldiers

Posted on Friday, February 20 at 20:04 by polemarch1

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Several terrorist suspects were captured in the sweep, called Operation Whirlwind. Sources pointed to the seized materials and their proximity to the minestrike as partial evidence of complicity - along with hard-won intelligence.

One military source said the operation targeted a minestrike suspect and it nabbed the man it was aiming to get.

"They think they've got the guy," he said.

The suspect is believed to be a member of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, or HIG, described by Canadian officers as the third-largest terrorist organization in Afghanistan, after al-Qaida and the Taliban.

In a statement from Kabul, Canadian Capt. Bernard Dionne of the Kabul Multi-National Brigade said that for reasons of operational security, officials "will not provide detailed information about these operations."

"And for their own safety, KMNB will not identify or provide details regarding individuals who are, or might be arrested during these operations - including details about their detention."

Senior sources said such operations, with protracted involvement of virtually the whole 650-member battalion group, are the result of painstaking intelligence work and careful planning.

"We don't do the strike unless we've done (our homework)," said one.

Machine guns, anti-tank weapons and rocket-propelled grenades were also seized in the raids, which were led by Kabul city police and Afghan National Directorate of Security personnel.

Senior sources said the operation went off without a hitch; no shots were fired and no one was injured.

Officials said the evidence was made available to Canadian investigators looking into the deaths of Sgt. Robert Short and Cpl. Robbie Beerenfenger, killed when their jeep struck up to three anti-tank mines in a creekbed near their base.

Sixteen hours after the raids, early on Jan. 27, a suicide bomber walked up to a Canadian patrol and detonated a mortar shell strapped to his chest, killing Cpl. Jamie Murphy and an Afghan bystander and wounding three other Canadian soldiers.

Some Canadian soldiers said after the suicide attack that they believed it was retribution. But military officials say they believe the raids and the suicide attack were nothing more than coincidence.

"I believe we were dealing with two completely separate groups," said a source.

Officials say the suicide strike happened too soon after to have been a response to Operation Whirlwind.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide strike that killed Murphy, while investigators are convinced the minestrike was engineered by HIG.

Investigators believe the Soviet-made TM-57 anti-tank mines that killed Short and Beerenfenger last October were planted in the creekbed southwest of Camp Julien less than 2½ hours before their Iltis patrol entered the area.

Engineers had been along the track at least six times in the previous 24 hours, last proving it late that morning, just before lunch.

Days after the minestrike, Canadian soldiers assisted in the capture of Abu Bakr, Kabul-area commander of HIG.

Bakr has also been linked to the suicide bombing of a bus last June, in which four German soldiers were killed and 29 others wounded.

Since the minestrike, Canadian soldiers have been involved in several raids in which terrorist suspects have been captured, the last known one coming last weekend.

Note: Source: CanWest News Service

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