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Sangin Snipers Blasted by F-16

You'll remember that Kit Up! tipped off our readers to a story from the Wall Street Journal recounting the fear spreading among US and Brit troops in Helmand by a pretty well trained Taliban sharpshooter (the Marine snipers sent out to hunt the guy, suspected of being one shooter and a spotter, refused to give them the respect of calling them "snipers") who killed three coalition troops in seven days.

Well, it turns out this was no Afghan Taliban Zaitsev.

According to the UK Daily Telegraph, the Sangin Sniper wasn't just one guy -- it was four...and they weren't even locals. They were hired foreigners from Pakistan, Egypt and Chechnya. The Mercinaries were tracked down by British special forces troops (SAS and SBS blokes) who helped light 'em up with laser designators while a Fighting Falcon put some warhead on the bad guys' foreheads.

The snipers were thought to have been hired by the Taliban to specifically target the Nato forces’ most highly specialised soldiers, such as bomb disposal experts.

The first pair were caught in Sangin ten days ago and the second two were found on Thursday.

When their identities were confirmed and their exact locations ascertained, pilots of U.S. F-16 jets were sent precise coordinates to ensure their high-explosive bombs killed the enemy without hurting innocent civilians.

This brings up a very interesting point, one that the New York Times' CJ Chivers brought up a while back and we turned KU readers onto. Is the supposed prowess of the Afghan shooter (who, legend has it, was practically born with an Enfield rifle in his hand) over rated? These guys were taking good shots and informed speculation was that they were locally grown, if not locally trained.

But the Taliban had to hire battle-hardened freelancers to do their dirty work, since local talent either couldn't -- or more importantly, wouldn't -- do the job themselves. And also, let's consider what this says about the Taliban organization that it has the funding and logistics to call in a team of Jackals. That speaks to greater sophistication, not worse.

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