UK troops destroy Afghan IED site
British troops in Afghanistan have destroyed a secret insurgent training school and bomb factory.
They found 75 completed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) inside the booby-trapped Taliban base in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province.
The raid also uncovered another 40 part-constructed bombs, 140kg of home-made explosives for making further devices, radio transmitters used to trigger IEDs and more than 30 artillery shells.
Royal Marines and soldiers from 3 Commando Brigade Reconnaissance Force launched the operation at the weekend after local people tipped them off about the militant compound.
The UK forces landed in the area in two Chinook helicopters and immediately came under heavy insurgent fire from all directions.
One of the Chinooks was hit as it took off but it was able to return to Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand, for repairs.
The firefight ended when British snipers killed an insurgent sharpshooter, allowing a break in the battle so the troops could advance towards the base.
UK forces believe the compound was being used not only as an IED factory but also as an insurgent school to train young men as fighters.
Major Nick Foster, the officer commanding the Brigade Reconnaissance Force during the operation, said: "The loss of such a facility will be a significant blow to the insurgency in the Nahr-e-Saraj district. It was a prized possession for the insurgents and they fought hard to defend it, hitting us with everything they had from the moment the helicopters landed."
Sergeant Adam Lesley, one of the team commanders on the operation, added: "Hitting the jackpot is very satisfying not only because this will be a punishing blow to insurgent capability in this area, but most importantly for us it will decrease the amount of IEDs which might harm our friends and colleagues."