x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Two Britons arrested in Afghanistan in counter-terrorism raid

Pair detained by British forces in Herat because they were seen as a security threat to UK, according to reports.

LONDON // Two British nationals have been detained in Afghanistan, officials in London said yesterday, reportedly as part of a counter-terrorism operation to stop a possible attack back home.

"We can confirm that British forces have detained two individuals in Afghanistan who claim to be British nationals," the ministry of defence said in a statement, while the foreign office also confirmed they were both British. Both ministries refused to give further details.

Media reports in Britain have suggested that the men were arrested in Herat, a city in western Afghanistan near the border with Iran, as part of a joint operation between British and Afghan forces.

The Times newspaper said that two men with dual nationality were arrested at the International Trade Centre hotel in Herat, in what it called an unprecedented counter-terrorism raid on Afghan soil.

British forces were helped by members of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence service and later took the men into British custody in the province of Helmand, the newspaper said.

The operation had been sparked by a suspected threat to British security, it said.

A senior Afghan official, who declined to be named, told the paper the arrested men were "not Afghans", adding: "It was terrorism-related. It was a UK-led operation."

The official said: "The British asked for our help to arrest these two individuals.

The NDS was providing logistical support."