Government Offices Seized in Marja

The government offices of Marja have been secured from the Taliban by U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers in the huge offensive that began Saturday in southern Afghanistan. Soldiers siezed a former police station, as well as ruins of the former government center that had been used as stalls in a weekly bazaar that raised income for the insurgents. The clearing and securing of the rural area is about two-thirds complete, a British commander said, and the Afghan National Civil Order Police will likely arrive Wednesday, far ahead of the schedule military planners envisioned. "We have had some significant resistance from isolated groups of fighters," the commander said, and the northeast part of the area has been secured, though IEDs must still be cleared. Eight civilians were killed in the fighting Tuesday, three in shooting incidents in Marja and five in Kandahar, after troops killed civilians erroneously assumed to be planting roadside bombs.