KABUL, Afghanistan, April 20, 2011 -- Afghan and coalition forces killed 17 insurgents, including foreign fighters, and detained one suspected insurgent while searching for an al-Qaida senior leader during a security operation in Dangam district, Kunar province last night.

The senior al-Qaida leader commands and facilitates insurgents throughout the province and border region, directing weapons acquisition, movement, employment of fighters and equipment to Kunar for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

As the combined security force approached the target area, three armed insurgents maneuvered in an attempt to ambush the force, and they were killed by an air weapons team.

Following that engagement, security forces approached two compounds and initiated callout procedures in an attempt to have insurgents surrender without violence. At both compounds insurgents ignored the callout and pointed rifles at Afghan and coalition forces, who shot the insurgents in self defense.

As the combined force initiated clearance of a third set of compounds, they received fire from a group of three people standing near a door. One of the individuals held a spotlight on Afghan and coalition forces, while another stood behind them and fired. The security forces returned fire, killing the insurgent and what turned out to be two women he was hiding behind.

At the last set of buildings, the combined force noticed an armed sentry on the roof. There were multiple armed individuals inside the building. Two of them were barricaded in a room. The security force engaged the armed individuals, resulting in seven insurgents killed.

As the security forces were departing, four armed insurgents moved to attack. An air weapons team was called in, resulting in all four of the insurgents being killed.

A total of 24 women and 65 children were present, and they were protected by Afghan and coalition forces during this operation.