Defence Department confirms that the special operation was conducted in summer 2008. The operation ended with several Taliban shot and killed, said an Afghan interpreter who for years has worked for the Norwegian forces in Afghanistan.
The interpreter was with the Norwegians on the assignment, which he describes as "an undercover operation."
- It happened during a major operation in Ghowrmach district, tells the interpreter.
The Norwegian soldiers belonged to a so-called MOT team, and was not part of the Intelligence Service or the special forces. Usually they patroled the province in armored vehicles, clearly marked with the Norwegian flag.
During this operation near the village Qeysar, the soldiers used four civilian vehicles packed with hidden equipment and weapons. The soldiers wore civilian clothes over their uniforms.
- We drove out of the camp in the afternoon. Two of the cars contained Norwegian soldiers and the other two contained special troops from Latvia. All dressed in civilian clothes, tells the interpreter who also wore civilian clothing.
Tez Nawa was the village that was target of the operation. Norwegian soldiers had repeatedly been in hard skirmishes around the town, which is a known haven for Taliban.
- We were civil to prevent Taliban spies from reporting about our deployment and let them know that we were comming. Had we been in uniform, it had not been possible for us to hunt. They would have fled, said the interpreter.
The car procession passed several villages without being detected.
- We drove for half an hour before we parked. As darkness fell, we took of the civilian clothes. The Norwegian soldiers wore night vision goggles and started to walk towards the village.
- It was a difficult terrain and we had to keep us away from the ridges. We and the Latvian special forces approached the village from two different directions.
After walking for hours in the dark, they arrived at their destination about two o'clock at night. There they lay down to wait for the daylight.
- We surrounded the village and blocked the roads out of it to prevent the Taliban to flee, says the interpreter. When the first light of day, Afghan forces and U.S. forces attacked the village from the another direction.
- The insurgents tried to flee the village. We lay on the hills and started shooting at them when they arrived.
- What was the outcome?
- Many Taliban were killed, some injured and the rest arrested. The operation was a great success, says the interpreter.
The interpreter said that he participated in some of the most dangerous missions the Norwegian troops conducted in Faryab province.
Spokesman Ivar Moen at Norwegian Joint Headquarters (FOH) confirms the interprators story.
- It was concluded that the operation was not in violation of international law and could be implemented, says press spokesman.
- During the operation area the Norwegian soldiers dressed in civilian clothing and drove civilian cars which they had borrowed from Afghan forces. They camouflaged their military uniforms. As they came to the area of operations they took off this civilian clothes and continued on foot towards the goal, says Moen.
He explains that the purpose of the civilian clothes and private cars were to trick the Taliban and make sure operational success. The Norwegian soldiers were part of an ISAF operation.
- It was Afghan forces who led the attack, while the Norwegian soldiers had a support role, said Moen.
Norwegian Red Cross says the forces have a duty to distinguish themselves from civilians.
- From this interpretation, it is questionable how the Norwegian soldiers have acted in this case, said Deputy Øistein Mjærum of the Norwegian Red Cross.
He said that the Norwegian Red Cross will ask for more information from the military about the incident.
- In an armed conflict like Afghanistan, all parties have a duty to distinguish themselves from civilians. The goal is to give the civilians the protection they are entitled. Norway is obliged by the law of war. We expect that Norwegian troops follow the rules to distinguish themselves from the civilian population, said Mjærum.