Afghan and NATO troops kill 63 rebels, seize drug haul | world | Hindustan Times
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Afghan and NATO troops kill 63 rebels, seize drug haul

world Updated: Jul 04, 2010 20:58 IST

Afghan authorities said on Sunday that they killed more than 60 rebels in raids against Taliban militants and their drug-trafficking backers in a restive part of southern Afghanistan.

More than 16 tonnes of drugs -- mostly opium --were also seized in Bahramcha district of Helmand province, centre of a Taliban-led insurgency and Afghanistan's biggest poppy-growing region, the interior ministry said.

"Sixty-three terrorists were killed," the ministry said in a statement, referring to Taliban-linked insurgents.

"The operation was successfully completed on Sunday," the statement said.

Two factories for converting opium into heroin were destroyed and "a large number" of weapons and ammunition were also seized in the raids, begun Friday by Afghan counternarcotics commandos supported by NATO troops, it added.

The commandos also freed 10 villagers captured by rebels for allegedly working with the government while arresting 10 rebels and drugs traffickers, the statement said.

War-ravaged Afghanistan is the world's largest heroin producer, with annual exports worth up to three billion dollars helping fuel its Islamist insurgency.