11 Dec. 2008
PR# 2008-702

Afghan led operation uncovers drugs and weapons in southern Helmand

Drugs and Weapons seized during an operation led by the Afghan National Security Force and supported by ISAF soldiers.

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan National Security Forces led operation, supported by ISAF forces, uncovered a sizeable quantity of drugs and weapons in the Nawa area of Southern Helmand earlier this week. The discovery of such a combination of drugs and weapons in the same compound clearly highlights the link between insurgents and narco-criminals and shows how the insurgency continues to be funded by criminal activity.

The weapons found included rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, small arms and components of explosive devices. The Taliban use explosive devices indiscriminately throughout Helmand, killing and injuring civilians and members of the Afghan National Security Forces as well as targeting ISAF Forces.

Approximately 400Kg of ‘wet opium’ was also discovered in the compound with an estimated street value in Western capitals of nearly US $1.5 million. This was later destroyed.

This successful operation is a demonstration of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s intent to take decisive action against insurgents and narcotics criminals. This is also another example of how the Afghan Security Forces are becoming more and more capable and how they are beginning to take greater responsibility for security in the region.

Last week Governor Mangal mentioned to 160 tribal elders at a Shura held to discuss security in Helmand that the Taliban had tried to obstruct his wheat seed distribution programme. He reported that the recently completed wheat seed distribution, which has been supported by the PRT and ISAF, has already seen the seed reach 21,000 farmers in Lashkar Gah, 5,000 in Gereshk, 3,600 in Garmsir, 2,000 in Sangin and 900 in Musa Qala. He added that the Taliban had tried to prevent some communities from collecting their seed, but they had been defied.

Speaking at the Shura, Governor Mangal said; “This demonstrates that the Taliban do not want good things for the people of Helmand.  They only have selfish interests and want to make money from the dishonourable trade in drugs.  It also demonstrates that when good Helmandis stand together they can resist evil and oppression and reap the rewards that come from this”.

Spokesperson for Task Force Helmand, Commander Paula Rowe, said: “Once again the Afghan Security Forces, with ISAF support, have conducted a successful operation against the enemies of Afghanistan. They acted decisively to expose drugs traffickers working hand in hand with the Taliban. Though the Taliban claim otherwise, this clearly shows how much they rely on and benefit from the narcotics industry. Ordinary people know that the Taliban and the drug traffickers who work with them offer only misery and destruction”.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/