Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Bombs cleared from 'ghost town'

A bomb disposal specialist searches for a possible improvised explosive device around Char Coucha

British bomb disposal experts have carried out their largest clearance of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said.

An 80-strong team cleared a "deserted ghost town", searching and clearing 75 compounds as well as miles of tracks and alleyways.

During the painstaking eight-day fingertip search of Char Coucha in Helmand the team diffused nine bombs and discovered nine ordnance caches.

Throughout last year the village was the scene of intense fighting between coalition forces and the Taliban.

But more than 40 families have returned since the operation was launched by 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, members of the British Counter-IED Task Force, and members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the MoD said.

Officer Commanding 2 Para, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Harrison, said: "When 2 Para arrived here in October, Char Coucha was a deserted ghost town, choked of life by the insidious threat of IEDs.

"Thanks to the courage of my men and the counter-IED specialists who cleared Char Coucha, children are now playing in its streets and families returning.

"Every day, more people re-occupy their compounds. This 'phoenix village' is now becoming a living memorial to those who fell fighting the scourge of the Taliban in its compounds and streets. It is an amazing story."

Religious elder Haji Khan Agha was quoted saying: "It is a great achievement."

Lieutenant Johnny Mortimer-Hendry said: "To clear a village and return it to the local people is something to behold."

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