Afghans blow up huge haul of explosives in Helmand desert
The Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) with the help of soldiers the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Taskforce and the 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2RGR) have today destroyed more than 800 kilos of explosives which have been seized in recent operations in the Lashkar Gah area.
The homemade explosives were blown up in a controlled explosion in a remote part of the Helmand desert along with more than 60 detonators and anti-personnel mines as well as other items of legacy ordnance.
All the items had either been collected by Captain Khan Muhammed, the head of the AUP’s IED disposal team or handed in to the front-gate of the Police Operational Co-ordination Centre Provincial (OCCP) in Lashkar Gah, where they are based.
The team, led by Capt Khan Muhammed, are being trained and developed by members of the UK’s C-IED taskforce who are working alongside 2RGR, the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group. Petty Officer (Diver) Gareth Buffrey is in charge of mentoring the Afghan Police C-IED team:
“The training and mentoring over the last couple of months with the AUP IED team has proved to be really successful. Disposing of this amount of HME, improvised detonators and legacy munitions is not easy – there are obvious risks involved and it can be dangerous. But the day’s success was down to the enthusiasm of the AUP, their willingness to learn and the support of the Gurkhas.”
Early on Saturday morning, the Afghans and their mentors loaded up their vehicles with the explosives and drove four kilometres out of the district centre to begin their task. With so much to get rid off, the ordnance was separated into two large piles. The Gurkhas then showed the Afghans how to prepare it so that it could be destroyed in a safe and controlled way.
When the mentors were happy that the site was ready, the last job for Capt Khan Muhammed was to light the fuse that would detonate the explosion. He and his mentor then jumped into their vehicles and made for safer ground to watch the results of their work – a plume of smoke that erupted sixty feet into the air followed a few minutes later by another loud boom.
Having completed several years of specialist training in both Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif, Capt Khan Muhammed is one of the most experienced clearance experts in the AUP. Just last week, he single-handedly discovered and made safe six devices – destroying them before they could maim or kill innocent people. He told us he’s happy to do it.
“I enjoy my job very much. It makes me proud because doing this job; I have helped to save lives.”
It’s hoped through the training provided by the C-IED taskforce and the Gurkhas, the AUP will be able to carry out similar detonations by themselves in the future.