Pulled from the Guardian.....
Elite UK troops rescue Italians in Afghanistan
· Eight kidnappers killed in fierce gunfight
· Intelligence reports led to use of special forces
Tuesday September 25, 2007
Helicopter-borne British special forces yesterday rescued two Italian soldiers, killing their captors in a gunfight in western Afghanistan, defence sources said.
Troops from the Special Boat Service, the navy's equivalent of the SAS, were called in by Nato after intelligence reports that the Italians were about to be moved from a building east of the town of Farah. The SBS troopers were taken to the area by helicopter, and as Italian commandos stormed the building, the SBS attacked the two trucks in which the captors were about to drive the Italians away.
"The SBS was very much in the forefront of the mission. Most of the firefight was with our guys," a defence source said. "They are very chuffed," he added.
The Italian soldiers were last seen on Saturday at a police checkpoint in Herat province, west of Farah.
Brigadier General Vincent Lafontaine, a French officer with Nato staff in Afghanistan, said intelligence reports soon revealed where they were being held.
"There is a sort of window of opportunity if you achieve reliable intelligence," he said. "It's a success story because it was very quickly solved."
All eight of those who snatched the Italians were killed, Nato officials said. Both the Italian soldiers were injured, one seriously. Italian media reported he had gunshot wounds to the head and chest. British sources said he had been injured before the battle and may have been tortured.
Major Charles Anthony, a Nato spokesman in Kabul, said it was not clear whether the two Italians were wounded by gunfire from their rescuers or their kidnappers.
The Italians' Afghan translator was also wounded. Maj Anthony hinted that their driver might have been complicit in the kidnappings, and might have been killed in the rescue. "It's unclear what his status was or is," he said.
Abdul Rahman Sarjang, chief of police in the province of Farah, said he suspected the kidnappers were members of a criminal gang.
Major Anthony said the alliance had evidence that the kidnappers were Taliban. A rise in violent activity in Farah province has been attributed to the Taliban.
Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister, said the operation represented "a bad defeat for the kidnappers and also a warning for the future". Asked whether the kidnappings would lead Italy to take troops out of Afghanistan, he said: "This certainly isn't the moment to change policy." Italy has 2,200 troops in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile Des Browne, the defence secretary, last night predicted the Taliban would need to be involved in the peace process in Afghanistan at some stage. He told a fringe event at Labour's party conference: "In Afghanistan, at some stage, the Taliban will need to be involved in the peace process because they are not going away any more than I suspect Hamas are going away from Palestine."