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Joint NATO-Afghan raid leaves 16 militants dead in south Afghanistan

By David Ariosto, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A raid in Helmand province left 16 militants dead, a provincial governor said
  • Coalition forces faced "strong opposition" from insurgents
  • During the joint raid, government and international security forces also confiscated a drug cache

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- An operation by Afghan and coalition forces in Helmand province left 16 militants dead, according provincial governor Gullab Mangall.

During the joint raid in the country's restive southern border region late Friday into early Saturday, government and international security forces faced "strong opposition" from the insurgents, Mangall said. They also confiscated a drug cache that included 2,000 kilograms of poppy, six kilograms of heroin, 50 kilograms of hashish, 150 kilograms of morphine and 20 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, which can be used in fertilizers and as an explosive component.

The opium poppy can be used to make heroin and other drugs, and is considered a staple of insurgent funding.

The find came two days after nearly half a million pounds of opium poppy seeds were confiscated in the Delaram district of Nimroz province, which borders Iran.

That find represents the largest uncovered by Afghan and coalition forces this year, according to Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Seddiqi.

Afghanistan is considered the world's leading cultivator of opium poppy, ahead of Myanmar, according to a 2011 United Nations report.

CNN's Fazel Reshad contributed to this report

 
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