Drugs worth $350 million destroyed in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan and U.S.-led coalition troops have destroyed drugs worth more than $350 million and three drug laboratories in southern Afghanistan.
NATO said Wednesday the narcotics seizure may be the largest ever made in Afghanistan.
Acting on intelligence, the troops targeted an area of Baghran district in the southern Helmand province on Monday that was suspected of being a manufacturing site for drugs.
The money from the drugs was believed to be bankrolling attacks on Afghan and coalition forces.
Also destroyed in the sweep was more than 26,000 pounds (12,065 kilograms) of chemicals used to make drugs, 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of heroin and 176 pounds (80 kilograms) of opium. Afghanistan produces about 90 percent of the world's opium.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Eight policemen were killed in an attack early Wednesday near a southern city that is seen as a pioneer in transition from NATO to Afghan control over security, an Afghan police commander said.
Gen. Nabi Jan Mullahkhail, deputy regional commander in the south, said the pre-dawn attack targeted a police checkpoint near Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, where the insurgency has strongholds. Three police were wounded in the attack.
Mullahkhail said another policeman who was part of the group manning the checkpoint was missing, and that authorities were investigating whether he might have been involved in the attack.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-packed vehicle into a police truck in Lashkar Gah, killing two civilians. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.
Lashkar Gah was one of five provincial capitals and two provinces chosen to start the transition from NATO to Afghan control this summer. The international coalition hopes to use the security zone around the provincial capital and the central Helmand River Valley as a foothold to push Afghan governance into outlying areas. NATO plans to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Also Wednesday, a New Zealand special forces soldier was killed during a gunbattle with suspected insurgents in a compound near Afghanistan's capital.
Lt. Gen. Rhys Jones, the chief of New Zealand's defense force, said the soldier was shot in the head and died soon after at a medical facility. Jones said the soldier was part of a team of 15 supporting about 50 Afghan police trying to serve arrest and search warrants on a group suspected of planning an attack on Kabul.
Jones said a man and a child in the compound were injured during the battle, which was still ongoing Wednesday morning.