KABUL, 13 April 2006 — Afghan anti-narcotics forces have raided a major heroin-producing center, seizing more than four tons of drugs and arresting seven suspects, four of them Pakistanis, the government said yesterday. Afghanistan is the world’s main producer of opium and its refined form, heroin, and the huge trade is feeding into an escalating insurgency against foreign troops and the Western-backed government, security officials say.
Newly formed Special Narcotics Forces mounted the raids in the southern province of Helmand, Afghanistan’s main opium-growing region, where authorities say militants and the drug gangs are in league. Eight heroin-refining laboratories were seized and destroyed in the operation on Tuesday in the south of Helmand near the Pakistani border.
One gunman was killed while 4.1 tons of opium, 47 kg of heroin (100 lb), 80 kg (175 lb) of morphine and more than two tons of drug-making chemicals were destroyed, the Interior Ministry said in a release. The previous day, three members of the paramilitary anti-drugs force, which was set up with US help, were wounded in a clash. The government did not identify the Pakistani suspects but anti-drugs officials say Pakistani gangsters are heavily involved in Afghan drugs.