Saturday, January 9, 2010

NATO forces capture huge cache of drugs, weapons

A French gunner mans a machine gun on an armoured vehicle while leaving Forward Operating BaseTagab-Kutschbach

International forces in Afghanistan said Friday they seized a huge cache of opium, heroin and weapons in southern Kandahar province, a centre of illegal drugs production fuelling a Taliban insurgency.

A combined air and ground operation early Friday had stopped a "suspicious vehicle" later found to be carrying the drugs and weapons, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

"A subsequent search of the truck revealed more than 5,300 pounds (2,400 kilograms) of processed opium, more than 1,000 pounds of wet opium paste, approximately 50 pounds of heroin and multiple firearms with ammunition," it said.

Most of the drugs were destroyed on the spot and two men were detained, it added.

Kandahar and neighbouring Helmand produce most of the world's opium, the raw material of heroin, in an illicit industry worth billions of dollars.

Drugs, as well as protection money extorted from aid projects, is funding an insurgency that has become increasingly virulent in recent years, experts say.

Later Friday and also in Kandahar, foreign and Afghan forces seized a truck carrying 10 tons of fertiliser containing ammonium nitrate, often used by militants to make the crude bombs that are exacting a huge toll in the war, ISAF said.

"The combined force destroyed the fertiliser, returned the truck to the owner and compensated him for the fertiliser," ISAF said in a statement.

Military officials have said ammonium nitrate is little used in agriculture in Afghanistan, rather than in improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which are planted by roadsides and usually detonated by remote control.

A US intelligence officer said recently that up to 90 percent of casualties among foreign forces are caused by IEDs.


  1. Am I missing something here?

    Since Ammonium Nitrate is 'little used in agriculture in Afghanistan' and is used in the manufacture of IEDs then why was the truck returned to its owner and why was he compensated?