International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops have destroyed a bomb-making team in Helmand today as they attempted to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on a main road near an area held by British troops following Operation PANTHER’S CLAW.
In the early hours of this morning American Apache helicopters working for the Danish Battle Group were patrolling close to Highway One, which runs out of Gereshk to the north of Babaji, when they spotted three insurgents in the process of digging a device into the ground.
The Apaches opened fire killing two of the insurgents and preventing them from fully laying their explosives.
Specialist British counter-IED teams then accompanied the American-mentored Afghan National Army highway patrol as they immediately entered the area on foot to make the device safe and to sweep across the surrounding area looking for signs of enemy activity.
One of the insurgents, who is thought to have survived the attack, had run to a nearby mud-walled compound. As British, Afghan and US forces followed in hot pursuit, they discovered a cache of IED-making equipment inside a warren of rooms in the compound.
Amongst the haul were six pre-prepared IEDs, three 20-litre cans containing homemade explosives, six mortar rounds packed and prepared to be used as IEDs, hand grenades and an AK-47
The strike is a significant success along a highway which intersects the Babaji Road, a key route through the territory recently captured and held by British troops during Operation PANTHER’S CLAW.
Since April this year, Highway One has been the scene of 49 IED finds; a haul that could have resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wenham, Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said:
“Highway One is a main arterial route through Helmand that is used extensively by the local population and security forces alike. The deadly devices that the insurgents intended to plant would almost certainly have killed or maimed innocent civilians or members of coalition forces.
“This morning’s operation was a truly multi-national effort and illustrates how NATO nations are working together at the tactical level, alongside the increasingly capable Afghan forces, to provide security and ultimately stability for the local population.”