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Afghanistan Counternarcotics Operation Successful

By Samantha Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2004 – Officials commended the success of a Dec. 15 interdiction operation in Nangarhar province during a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news conference today in the Afghan capital city of Kabul.

The counternarcotics operation led to the destruction of more than 20 drug processing labs and more than 17,000 kilograms of opiates in different stages of production.

"This operation underscores the importance that the Afghan government is placing on the fight against narcotics growth, production and trafficking, as announced by President Karzai immediately following his inauguration last week," a military spokesman said.

Officials also announced that a U.S. Army OH-58 helicopter crashed Dec. 17 just north of Shindand, Afghanistan, in Herat province. The crash site was secured immediately, and there were no enemy forces reported in the area.

Both pilots on board the aircraft suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were evacuated to a nearby U.S. medical facility.

"This crash was not the result of any hostile action, and, according to the pilots, there was no fire reported from the ground," the spokesman said, adding that the incident was under investigation.

Also, the spokesman said coalition forces recently discovered four more weapons caches - three near Jalalabad in Nangarhar, and one near Shindand in Herat.

"The four caches together contained 150 boxes of mines, 240 120 mm mortar rounds, 1,050 82 mm mortar rounds, 200 107 mm rockets, 57 rocket-propelled- grenade rounds, two RPG launchers, 1,000 cases of 14.7 mm rounds, 200 75 mm recoilless rifle rounds, small-caliber ammunition, and materials used to construct improvised explosive devices," the spokesman said.

Also, the cache in Shindand reportedly included five kilograms of raw opium as well as 22 million Afghanis.

"Coalition forces continue to discover an increasing number of caches, and the caches are increasing in size and the amount of serviceable munitions," the spokesman said. "We continue to be encouraged by these discoveries."

Officials also noted that these materials are being taken out of the hands of anti-coalition militia, making them no longer available to construct explosive devices to be used in indiscriminate attacks against Afghan citizens or soldiers.

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