Afghan drugs bust by UK troops

British soldiers in Afghanistan have destroyed huge quantities of drugs and bomb-making chemicals after raids on four Taliban factories in Helmand Province.

It was a daring military operation and a successful one.

British and Afghan troops raided four factories in the notorious Helmand province seizing drugs and bomb-making chemicals.

They entered the sites by force over a five day period.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED BRITISH ARMY OFFICER SAYING

"We have come across about 450 kilos of opium, which has been a good find even though we are not looking for that stuff. We managed to ignite that by just setting it alight which makes it a bit safer. We also came across a few weapons and (unintelligible) shells and bits and bobs, so yes, overall a good day."

In total almost 1300 kilogams of wet opium was seized - as heroin it would have had a street value of 8.5 million US dollars.

Britain's armed Forces Minster welcomed the news.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH ARMED FORCES MINISTER BOB AINSWORTH MP, SAYING:

"Drugs are a huge problem in Afghanistan and in Britain too. Almost all the heroin on the streets of Britain comes from Afghanistan. It causes misery throughout the world and it funds the terrorist organisations, it funds the Taliban and Al Qaeda."

700 soldiers were involved in Operation Diesel.

Much of it took place under the cover of darkness.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH ARMED FORCES MINISTER BOB AINSWORTH MP, SAYING:

"Huge success, I mean 3 commando brigade have taken the battle to the Taliban in a big way, huge drugs seizure, guns, the chemicals and the equipment that's needed to produce heroin."

The troops also seized weapons and ammunition, including rocket launchers and assault rifles.

Most were destroyed or burned.

Despite the success of the operation the security situation in Afghanistan is said to be deteriorating.

America has just agreed to send 17,000 extra troops to the country to help fight the Taliban.

Sonia Legg, Reuters