Troops seize Taleban bombs in Operation Black Prince

BRITISH and Afghan troops seized large amounts of explosive devices and bomb-making equipment yesterday as a major operation against Taleban insurgents entered its second day.

Hundreds of British soldiers were taking part in Operation Tor Shezada, or Black Prince. The Ministry of Defence said it was going "very well", and revealed British forces, working alongside the Afghan National Army, were holding two compounds near Sayedebad in central Helmand province.

The operation started on Friday when soldiers were dropped from Chinook helicopters under cover of night.

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Troops, spearheaded by 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, then moved in to clear compounds and establish patrol bases. No casualties have been reported so far and there has been only limited contact with Taleban fighters.

An MoD spokesman said: "Quantities of IEDs (improvised explosive devices] have been recovered and shuras (meetings] have been held with village chiefs to offer reassurance." The operation is intended to push insurgents out of population centres cleared as part of Operation Moshtarak earlier this year.

UK troops and Afghan forces from 3rd Brigade, 215 Corps, are clearing insurgents from Sayedebad to the south of Nad-e Ali, in parallel to similar operations by the United States Marine Corps in northern Marjah.

Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, for Task Force Helmand, said: "Operation Tor Shezada will continue the momentum generated by Moshtarak.

"Its aims are very much supported by local Afghans. They are keen insurgents be removed so that they can live, work and travel there safely."