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Coalition forces face resistance in Afghan town

As US Marines pummeled insurgents with mortars,sniper fire and missiles in two areas of the Taliban southern stronghold of Marja...

Written by Associated Press | Marja | Published: February 19, 2010 2:23 am

As US Marines pummeled insurgents with mortars,sniper fire and missiles in two areas of the Taliban southern stronghold of Marja,in Wardak province’s Chak district eight policemen abandoned their posts and joined Taliban militants late on Wednesday. Mirza Khan,deputy provincial police chief,said one of the policemen had ties with the insurgents. The incident is under investigation.

A Taliban spokesman called Associated Press to confirm the defection. “These policemen came on their own and told us they want to join with the Taliban,” Zabiullah Mujahid said. “Now they are with us.” He said they came with their weapons and ammunition. Mujahid said more than 20 police switched over,but the group commonly gives inflated numbers.

In Marja,the US and Afghan forces continued to face stubborn resistance in an operation which in its sixth day. Marines traded machine-gun fire after coming under attack from insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades.

“We’re seeing more fortified positions. They’re standing their ground,essentially,” Lt Josh Diddams said. “You don’t know where you’re going to get a little pop up of insurgents who are going to stay and fight.”

But there were also pockets of calm. Families trickled back and shops reopened in a northern part of town as a small measure of normalcy returned to parts of Marja that are under Afghan and NATO control.

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