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Over 50 tons of drugs seized in southern Afghanistan

RIA Novosti

16:01 08/10/2009 KABUL, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - Afghan soldiers and U.S. marines seized some 52 tons of drugs and dozens of tons of explosives in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 1,800 kg (4,000 pounds) of heroine, 50 tons of hashish, and 30 tons of explosives were seized and destroyed during the raid on October 6-7 in Helmand's Kajaki district.

"The total cost of seized drugs is about $5 million," the spokesman said, adding several underground drug and explosive production laboratories were also destroyed by Afghan and American soldiers.

He said 17 militants were killed and three captured during the operation.

Since the Taliban regime was overthrown in the 2001 U.S.-led campaign, illegal drug production has risen by more than 40 times in Afghanistan, which is the world's leading producer of heroin.

According to estimates, about 90% of heroin consumed in Russia is trafficked from Afghanistan via ex-Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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