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5,000 British Troops Aiding Fight Against Afghan Drug Trafficking


http://gdb.rferl.org/A58F8A3D-6373-4CE4-AD63-F60A8BB07FC3_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/A58F8A3D-6373-4CE4-AD63-F60A8BB07FC3_mw800_mh600.jpg British troops conducting a vehicle check on a Kabul road, February 2006 (RFE/RL) April 18, 2006 -- Britain's Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram today said the 5,000 British troops now being deployed in Afghanistan’s south are working to help the government of President Hamid Karzai fight drug trafficking --> http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/04/d949be64-fb14-44da-95ff-ee92494e7ad3.html .

In comments made to Associated Press during a visit to Kosovo, Ingram said the aim of the troop deployment is "to make Afghanistan a whole country again."


Britain, which has currently 1,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan, is deploying an additional 4,000 soldiers with the NATO-led ISAF security force there.


The move is part of NATO's efforts to expand its mission to the country's troubled south.


In related news, the Netherlands today said it was planning to increase its contribution to ISAF in Afghanistan to 1,600 troops, up from 1,400, as NATO expands to southern Afghanistan.


(AP)

Helmand Province Governor Comments

U.S. Marines operating in Helmand Province in 2002 (epa)

RULING A RESTIVE LAND: On February 12, RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Jawaid Wafa spoke briefly with Helmand Province Governor MOHAMMAD DAOUD about the ongoing violence in his restive region on the border with Pakistan.

RFE/RL: Recently, there have been many clashes and attacks by insurgents in Helmand Province. What in your view facilitates these attacks, especially in Helmand?

Mohammad Daoud: This province has a 160-kilometer border with Pakistan's Baluchistan Province. In reality, armed people, armed terrorists, from the other side of the border cross the border into Helmand. They carry out attacks and return back. It is a serious problem in Helmand that within our borders there is neither tribal good will, nor are there are special military or security measures to prevent enemies from crossing back and forth.

RFE/RL: The attacks and clashes have not only been between government forces and insurgents. There have been various clashes in different parts of Helmand between police and purported drug smugglers. How do you explain this?

Daoud: Drug smugglers also use the border for their own purposes. They have opened markets on the border and process opium there. This is a serious problem along our border. We are in touch with our authorities on this problem.

RFE/RL: There are government border police patrol your border. What is their role in preventing illegal crossings?

Daoud: Along this 160-kilometer border, there are car routes, walking routes. We have border police, but unfortunately, either because of their own problems or because of weak administration, they have not been able to stop the crossing.


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