x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Karzai protests at joint US-Russia Afghan drugs raid

Raid destroyed four laboratories and netted more than a tonne of heroin and morphine worth US$250 million, as well as equipment.

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, demanded an explanation from Nato's command in Afghanistan today for a drugs raid carried out by the United States and Russia without his government's permission.

"No organisation or institution has the right to carry out such military operations inside the territory of our country without permission and agreement from the Islamic Government of Afghanistan," a statement from his office said.

"Afghanistan condemns this act by NATO and announces that such unilateral operations are a clear violation of Afghan sovereignty as well as international law, and any repetition will be met by the required reaction from our side."

The statement said Mr Karzai had ordered an investigation by the ministries of defence and interior, to report back to him by tonight.

Moscow's senior drugs control official said yesterday that Russia and the United States had destroyed four drug laboratories in their first joint anti-drug operation in Afghanistan.

The raid netted more than a tonne of heroin and morphine worth US$250 million, as well as equipment, Viktor Ivanov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

The report said Afghan interior ministry officials had been involved in the operation.

Russia frequently criticises what it describes as the inadequate anti-drug policies of United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, leading to an increased flow of drugs into Russia through Central Asia.

Mr Ivanov travelled to Washington last week to discuss co-operation in fighting drug trafficking and accused the United States of failing to destroy heroin laboratories and crack down on poppy-growing landowners.

Russian drug control authorities have estimated that 30,000 Russians died in 2009 from using Afghan heroin, and that a million have died in the past decade.

Afghanistan produces and supplies most of the world's opium in an industry estimated to be worth almost $3 billion a year, which helps fund the Taliban-led insurgency.