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Stinger Missiles In Afghanistan A Threat US

A soldier stands ready with a Stinger missile.
by Staff Writers
Kabul (AFP) Mar 21, 2006
US-made Stinger missiles will pose a threat to military and commercial aircraft across the region if they fall into the hands of Taliban rebels in Afghanistan, the US-led coalition said Monday. Washington supplied a large number of shoulder-fired Stingers to Afghans fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and dozens are still thought to be missing.

There was no evidence to support media reports that the Taliban had obtained some of the heat-seeking missiles but coalition forces were continuously monitoring the situation, spokesman Colonel Jim Yonts said.

"Stinger missiles are a dangerous threat. It's a worry to all Afghans, Pakistanis and the coalition," Yonts told reporters in Kabul.

"Stinger missiles can be used not only against coalition aircraft but against civilians flying in the area, commercial aircraft coming in and out," he added.

"(Stingers are) a common enemy and a regional threat that we have to address."

The CIA has offered 150,000 to 200,000 dollars for each remaining missile in Afghanistan, an Afghan intelligence official has said.

Recent media reports recently said that US and NATO authorities were concerned that some had been bought by the Taliban, who are waging a bloody insurgency more than four years after their regime was ousted.

"Right now we don't have any indications they are in theater. But it's one of those items that we continously look at from a regional perpsctive," Yonts said.

A US-led military operation overthrew the Taliban in late 2001 for not handing over Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Violence linked to the Taliban has claimed thousands of lives, including 1,700 last year, most of whom were militants. Nearly 100 US soldiers also died in Afghanistan 2005, and another nine since January this year.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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