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Winners Gallery | General News Reporting | Second Place
First Place
William Daniels Freelance
Second Place
Balazs Gardi VII Network
"Collateral Damage"
Third Place
Justin Guariglia Smithsonian
"Night view of the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) in Singapore"
Award of Excellence
Brian Harkin World Picture Network
Award of Excellence
Per-Anders Pettersson Getty Images
Second Place
Balazs Gardi VII Network
"Collateral Damage" Korengal Valley is among the deadliest pieces of terrain in the world for US Forces. The six miles long strategic passage is located in north-eastern Afghanistan surrounded by treacherous mountain ridges, which are held desperately by the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Nearly one-fifth of all combat in Afghanistan occurs in this valley, and nearly three-quarters of all the bombs dropped by NATO planes target the surrounding area. The Valley is the first leg of a former mujahideen smuggling route that was used to bring in men and weapons from Pakistan during the 1980s. Operation Rock Avalanche was a multiple-company mission that ran October 19-25, 2007 in the Chapa Dara, Korengal, Shuryak and Pech river valleys with the aim of shutting down these north-eastern smuggling routes. "Able," "Battle" and "Chosen" companies from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade and multiple companies from the Afghan National Army's 201st Corps were were positioned into different areas of Kunar province at different times, hoping to flush insurgents out of one area into another, where US and Afghan forces would be waiting for them. It was a major fall offensive in the Pech River Valley to halt activity of anti-collation militias before the onset of the winter months. Their strategy began with an air assault on the mountaintops, then soldiers were to patrol down through the smaller valleys to either kill or capture all insurgents. Under the cover of darkness, the soldiers of "Battle" Company of the 2nd Battalion, loaded into military choppers and headed toward Yaka China, a small hostile village of the Korengal. In the morning they found a house where the local villagers collected the dead and the wounded from the US rocket attack the previous night. The air strike was originally triggered by an interception of enemy intercom communication and it killed five civilians and injured at least seven villagers, including children. Army medics examined the casualties.


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