Paratroopers strike Taliban blow
British paratroopers in Afghanistan have "struck a blow right into the heart of the insurgency" after advancing into Taliban territory in Helmand province.
But in a sign of the continuing insurgency, elsewhere in the province a roadside bomb killed 15 civilians on route to a local market.
British and Afghan forces launched an operation to secure the settlement of Tor Ghai in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province, a known area of insurgent activity.
The troops, from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, and The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, were attacked with small arms fire before the insurgents retreated.
A shura, or meeting, with village elders was held, with a message broadcast by loudspeaker saying: "The Afghan National Army and ISAF are here to stay, so we can provide security for the development that is coming to your village. You can come out now. This is a new time in your lives, please stay and support your village elders who are working to bring you the many benefits of governance."
Commanding Officer 2 PARA, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Harrison, said: "The extension of our security presence into this area is significant. We have struck a blow right into the heart of the insurgency in Nahr-e Saraj.
"Yesterday, this area was a command and control node for those who subjugated Afghan and British soldiers.
"Today soldiers patrol together to bring security in order to open the door for development, education and the rule of law."
The operation came as elsewhere in Helmand a roadside bomb killed 15 civilians. A pick-up truck carrying villagers through the Khan Neshin district struck the device on Friday afternoon. Daoud Ahmadi, spokesman for the provincial governor, said: "It was a very heavy explosion, the vehicle was destroyed."
And in the Chahar Dara district of northern Afghanistan a suicide bomber blew up a stolen police car injuring at least 14 people near an Afghan army checkpoint.