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    Afghan commandos disrupt militant stronghold, narcotics hub in southern Afghanistan



    Courtesy Story

    U.S. Forces Afghanistan

    KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan national army commandos and coalition forces have killed an additional 16 enemy fighters and confiscated or destroyed a cache of drugs, drug-refining materials, and military weapons in the city of Marjeh, Nad Ali District, Helmand Province, in the last 24 hours of an ongoing operation. The battle began after the combined elements launched an operation to secure the Loy Cherah Bazaar in Marjeh, a militant stronghold and hub of narcotics processing for southern Afghanistan.

    Throughout the course of the operation, which started May 19, combined forces have discovered almost 15,000 kilograms of various high-grade narcotics, including 14,750 kilograms of black tar opium, 11 kilograms of processed heroin and 30 kilograms of morphine. The forces also have found a massive supply of heroin-refining products, including 15,900 pounds of poppy seeds, 275 gallons of acidic anhydride, 250 kilograms of activated charcoal and 12,800 kilograms of soda ash.

    The only other narcotics discovery comparable in size to the Marjeh operation was a 260-ton stockpile of hashish with an approximate street value of approximately $350 million, which was destroyed by coalition and Afghan forces in Kandahar Province in July 2008.

    The combined forces, including the Afghan national army's 205th Corps, also uncovered a large amount of bomb-making materials, including a combined 40,000 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, ammonium chloride and homemade explosive material. The HME was packaged into gallon-size drums and prepared for use in vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.

    Supporting their suspicions that the bazaar was a nucleus of militant activity, the combined forces found two "war rooms" stocked with maps, communication equipment, Russian-made night vision goggles and U.S. military vehicle parts. They also found weapons, including 10 rocket-propelled grenades, one launcher, six mortars and a number of small-arms munitions.

    A total of 34 militants have been killed. The most recent enemy deaths were caused by a series of precision air strikes during heavy fighting in the area.

    Civilians were safely escorted from the bazaar and have been protected by friendly forces throughout the course of the operation. No civilian casualties have been reported.

    "The Afghan commandos have dealt a significant blow to the insurgents," said USFOR-A Spokesman Col. Greg Julian. "They hit them where it hurts the most — in a main command node and in the wallet."



    Date Taken: 05.21.2009
    Date Posted: 05.21.2009 10:26
    Story ID: 33898
    Location: KABUL, AF 

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