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Insurgents continue white phosphorus attacks

Release No: UNRELEASED May 20, 2009 PRINT | E-MAIL
Seven 82 mm mortar rounds, five of which are white phosphorus, were discovered as part of a larger cache by International Security Assistance Force troops in Bamiyan Province May 16. The rounds were collected for destruction.
Seven 82 mm mortar rounds, five of which are white phosphorus, were discovered as part of a larger cache by International Security Assistance Force troops in Bamiyan Province May 16. The rounds were collected for destruction.

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (May 19, 2009) – Today, militants continued to attack International Security Assistance Force personnel using white phosphorus munitions. 

In Gayan District, Paktika province, insurgents mortared an ISAF combat outpost with white phosphorus and high explosive rounds.  No injuries or damage were reported. 

This past week, two other cases of enemy white phosphorus use have been recorded in Regional Command-East, following the 11 May release of 38 declassified instances of insurgent white phosphorus access and misuse against personnel. 

On May 16, ISAF troops in Bamiyan discovered a large cache of various ordnance, including nine 82mm white phosphorus mortar rounds.  The rounds, which were photographed as evidence, were collected for destruction. 

Also on May 16, an ISAF unit located a white phosphorus 107mm rocket emplaced in the vicinity of an ISAF forward operating base in Kama District, Nangahar province. The rocket, which had been aimed in the direction of the base, was later safely disarmed. 

White phosphorus is appropriately employed for screening of troop movements, marking targets, illumination, as well as destruction of unoccupied bunkers, buildings and weapons systems, and the demolition of otherwise flammable materials such as ammo and petroleum products. 

WP is used as a smoke-producing agent common to the arsenals of many nations, and is classified as conventional ordnance.  It is not designed for use against personnel. ISAF employs white phosphorus in accordance with theatre rules of engagement and international law.