April 17 2014 Latest news:
By MARTIN GEORGE
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Troops from the recently-deployed Norfolk-based Light Dragoons have helped seize 250kg of explosives at a bomb factory hidden in a mosque in Afghanistan.
The surprise raid, using Chinook helicopters, forced insurgents to flee before they could arm booby traps surrounding the weapons factory, leaving their freshly-made tea and flip-flops behind.
The Dragoons are part of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF), which discovered the weapons cache in the Hyderabad area of Helmand province while supporting Afghan soldiers in the operation.
About 300 Light Dragoons, based at the Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley, near Dereham, have just started their six-month deployment to the war-torn country.
The soldiers were deployed by Chinook helicopter following intelligence reports that a mosque was being used as an improvised explosive device factory, and found equipment including a large number of pressure plates and other bomb-making components.
Military working dogs found booby traps around the weapons factory and ready to be armed, but the Ministry of Defence said the speed of the Afghan troops once on the ground prevented the insurgents from arming them.
Major Dalby-Welsh of the Light Dragoons, and officer commanding of the BRF, said: “This represents a real blow for the insurgency; this is a quarter-of-a-tonne of explosives which cannot be used against the Afghans or ISAF troops.
“We were confident that we would find something but we didn’t expect to find a cache of this size.”
The explosives and detonators were destroyed on site, while a large amount of evidence was taken back to Camp Bastion for further analysis.
The BRF is Task Force Helmand’s eyes and ears across the area of operations, and is currently made up of 13 units from across 12 Mechanized Brigade.