Following an ‘exhaustive manhunt’ after the Taliban operatives that fired the RPGs that downed the Chinook helicopter earlier this week, killing 38 soldiers on board, Coalition forces managed to kill the Taliban insurgents involved in the event, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan said today.
According to Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, near midnight on Aug. 8 coalition forces coalition forces called in a precision airstrike with F-16s over the Chak district of Wardak province. Other elements involved in tracking and eliminating the targets included an Air Force AC-130H Spectre gunship, and Army AH-64 Apache helicopters.
The F-16s dropped GBU-38 and GBU-54 bombs, and the Spectre fired its 105mm and 40mm cannons. The Apaches attacked insurgents with 30mm cannons. The strike targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the insurgent who fired the shot – which ISAF assessed to be a rocket-propelled grenade.
Mohibullah was a key facilitator in an insurgent attack cell led by Din Mohammad, a Taliban leader killed in a previous special operations mission, ISAF officials said. As a leader in Mohammad’s network in the Tangi Valley, Mohibullah had as many as 12 Taliban fighters under his command, including potential suicide bombers.
Special operations forces received several intelligence leads and tips from local civilians and after an exhaustive manhunt, ISAF officials said, they located Mohibullah and the shooter as they were trying to flee the country.
The security force located and followed the insurgents to a wooded area in the Chak district. After making sure no civilians were in the area, the force called for the airstrike that killed Mohibullah, the shooter and several Taliban associates.
On the night of the deadly helicopter crash, the inbound CH-47 carried special operations forces in pursuit of insurgents from Mohammad’s network who were fleeing from an engagement in which six militants already had been killed, ISAF officials said.
Allen said ISAF does not yet know if enemy fire was the sole reason for the helicopter crash, but on its approach, the aircraft encountered small-arms fire from several insurgent locations.