BAGRAM, Afghanistan – Several small weapons caches have been found and three people detained during a hunt for Al Qaeda members that began last weekend in southeastern Afghanistan, a U.S. military spokesman said Thursday.
Coalition forces are trying to ``find, capture or kill'' Al Qaeda fighters in the area around Zormat in Paktia province, said Col. Roger King at Bagram air base, the U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan.
King said the operation involved U.S. conventional and special operations troops as well as Afghan forces. He did not release other details and did not say how long the mission would last.
The area is located about 65 miles south of Kabul near the scene of fighting during Operation Anaconda in March. Anaconda was the largest U.S. ground operation of the Afghan conflict.
On Tuesday, an Afghan military chief in the area, apparently describing the same operation, said American and Afghan forces had detained four people in a door-to-door sweep through a town believed to be loyal to a leading ex-Taliban commander.
Also Thursday, King said an investigator from the U.S. special operations force was looking into an incident in which Afghan militiamen hung the body of a man they shot during a firefight from a post for two hours near Kandahar.
The man, hired to guard a checkpoint near the Kandahar air base, opened fire on the militiamen Tuesday morning, killing two. The shooter was killed in return fire.
King said the U.S. forces asked the Afghan militia to dispose of the body properly ``and conveyed our objections to this type of behavior.''
In other developments, U.S. special forces in Oruzgan province in central Afghanistan recovered two weapons caches, including a light machine gun with 300 rounds and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with six rounds, during a vehicle search Wednesday. The other cache contained 11 Kalashnikov rifles, three Marakov pistols, one light machine gun with two drums of ammunition, two rocket-propelled grenades with 14 rounds, eight grenades, and 210 rounds of ammunition.
Afghan militia and U.S. forces near Urgun, in southeastern Paktika province, also found two weapons caches that included more than 50,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition, 48 82mm mortar rounds, 100 107mm rockets and an anti-aircraft gun.