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".

PTI



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

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