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Afghans, Coalition Respond to Bombs, Drugs in Southern Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2008 – Afghan and coalition forces traded fire with insurgents in southern Afghanistan yesterday after responding to a roadside bomb explosion, military officials said.

Afghan and coalition troops arrived on the scene in the Nahr Surkh district of Helmand province where an Afghan man driving a tractor was seriously wounded when the tractor struck a homemade bomb. Insurgents attacked the combined forces with small-arms fire. The combined forces responded with small arms, killing one insurgent.

Coalition forces evacuated the civilian to a medical facility, where he was reported to be in critical condition. No Afghan or coalition casualties were reported.

Northeast of there a day earlier, coalition forces killed four armed militants and detained five suspects during an operation targeting the Taliban’s roadside bomb network in Zabul province.

Coalition forces targeted a Taliban militant known to traffic weapons and coordinate roadside bomb attacks in Qalat district, about 80 miles northeast of Kandahar. Multiple militants armed with AK-47 assault rifles engaged the troops, who returned fire, killing four insurgents.

Also in Afghanistan, Afghan commandos and coalition forces Dec. 19 discovered and destroyed 3,000 pounds of marijuana and marijuana seeds found in a school in the Arghestan district of Kandahar province.

The combined forces were conducting a foot patrol when a commando stopped to search the empty school. The school's furniture had been taken out of the classrooms and left in the courtyard. The amount of rust on the furniture indicated the school may not have been used for its intended purpose for a prolonged period of time, officials said.

With the help of local villagers, the drugs were taken outside of the school and destroyed. The school was not damaged during the destruction of the illegal drugs.

The combined forces also destroyed a homemade bomb and an unexploded mortar round, both located about 100 yards from the school.

"Using drugs to fund insurgent activity is bad enough," Army Col. Jerry O'Hara, U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesman, said. "Using a school as a drug warehouse is an attack on the future of all Afghanistan."

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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