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UPDATED: 16:26, May 17, 2006
Military operation "Mountain Lion" over in east Afghanistan
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The biggest-ever joint Afghan and U.S. military operation launched against Taliban-linked militants in eastern Kunar province early last month has concluded, the U.S. army said here Wednesday.

"The Coalition and Afghan National Army completed Operation Mountain Lion this week in eastern Afghanistan very successfully," spokesman Thomas Collins said at a press briefing.

The operation, launched on May 12, has caused heavy loss to the anti-government militants, said the spokesman without elaborating on the exact number of casualties.

"Mountain Lion was very successful. We captured plenty enemies caches. A number of enemies were killed and captured but I do not have the exact number," Collins added.

Asked if there were any casualties on the U.S. forces, he said: "There were some coalition's casualties."

Covering the mountainous provinces of Kunar, Nooristan and surrounding areas, the operation has led to the killing of at least six militants and the capture of eight others, according to Afghan sources.

A U.S. military helicopter has also crashed during the operation in Kunar province, killing all 10 onboard. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the downing of the plane.

Meanwhile, Colonel Collins asserted that the civilian part of the Operation Mountain Lion would continue to serve people in the war-plagued province.

"This operation denied enemy's sanctuary and safe haven but it also improved the lives of the Afghan people through road construction, irrigation, medical and education projects," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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