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Coalition, Afghan Forces Kill 25 Militants, Detain Seven

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2009 – Coalition and Afghan operations in the past 24 hours have left 25 enemy fighters dead and seven in custody.

In the city of Marjeh in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, forces killed 16 enemy fighters and confiscated and destroyed drugs, drug-refining materials and weapons.

Security forces there launched an operation to secure the bazaar in Marjeh, thought to be a militant stronghold and hub of narcotics processing for southern Afghanistan. Nearly 33,000 pounds of various high-grade narcotics, including black tar opium, heroin and morphine, were destroyed. Forces also found heroin-refining products, including nearly 16,000 pounds of poppy seeds. Forces also found several thousand pounds of bomb-making materials packaged into gallon-size drums and prepared for use in car bombs.

It was the second-largest narcotics find during coalition operations in Afghanistan. In July, forces destroyed a 260-ton stockpile of hashish with a street value of about $350 million in Kandahar province.

At the bazaar, forces uncovered 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, a launcher, six mortars and a number of small-arms munitions.

Also in Marjeh, coalition and Afghan forces killed two militants and detained six suspects in operations early today.

Security forces cleared several compounds there targeting a network known to attack security forces. Two men were killed and six surrendered in the operation.

Opium seeds were found and destroyed at the compounds.

Elswehere, seven militants were killed in a firefight last night and one suspect was detained in Ghazni province.

Security forces targeted a mid-level Taliban commander in the village of Spedar, thought to be responsible for leading attacks against forces in the east. Forces came under fire when approaching the village. They returned fire and called in air support. No coalition or Afghan forces were killed. Following the gun battle, forces searched for and caught the wanted commander.

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

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