Afghan villagers rushed to escape Marjah assault
Last Updated: Saturday, February 13, 2010, 21:59
Marjah (Afghanistan): As military helicopters thundered through the sky over the Afghan township of Marjah on Saturday morning, villagers cowered down below in their mud-brick huts.

About 60 helicopters took part in the assault, Helmand Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal said, dropping soldiers into what officials say is the last Taliban bastion in the southern province.

Spooky green-tinged video footage shot through military night-vision goggles showed US soldiers rushing off Chinook gunships and into the dark folds of Marjah.

But despite being told in leaflets dropped by helicopters -- and by Taliban embedded in the town -- to stay put, some civilians were still leaving as the battle commenced.

"We were sleeping when all of a sudden we heard this horrible noise -- it was helicopters bringing in soldiers," Marjah resident Abdul Wahaab said to a news agency by telephone, as he and his family tried to leave the town.

"As we were crossing the village we saw US and Afghan soldiers on the junctions. There were lots of them," he said, adding he was heading to safety in Lashkar Gah, capital of the restive province.

"We got out of there. I saw troops all over, they were on the roads, they were all over the area," another villager, Wahaab, said to a news agency via telephone as he too headed to Lashkar Gah with his family.

Another Marjah resident who refused to give his name said: "I heard small and big gunshots. The troops arrived last night".


First Published: Saturday, February 13, 2010, 21:59

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