17 police killed in Helmand counternarcotics drive
LASHKARGAH (PAN): Seventeen counternarcotics policemen have been killed and 22 wounded during an ongoing poppy eradication campaign in southern province of Helmand, an official said on Wednesday.
During the drive launched a month back, 11 Taliban fighters were also killed, the provincial police chief, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hakim Angar, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Another 18 militants, who were trying to hamper the campaign, were arrested, he said. About 16,561 acres of poppies were eradicated in Nad Ali, Greshk, Marja, Garmser and Nawa districts and the provincial capital, Lashkargah.
All the areas cleared of the illicit crop with the help of Afghan and foreign soldiers, the district chief said, adding that a campaign was underway in Musa Qala, Sangin, Nawzad, Kajaki and Khan Nishin districts. The drive would continue until the illegal crop was completely destroyed, he promised.
In other areas, poppy pricking had started, said the counternarcotics police chief, Col. Abdul Qadir Zaheer.
Meanwhile, residents of some villages accused government officials of accepting bribes. The police chief and spokesman for the governor, Daud Ahmadi, said they had heard the allegations, but the accusers had no evidence.
According to reports, about 50,000 hectares of farmland has been cultivated in Helmand. Only 3,000 hectares will be eradicated during the campaign.
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