The homemade explosives (HME) were blown up in a controlled explosion with the help of British soldiers from the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) Task Force and 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2 RGR) in a remote part of the Helmand desert along with more than 60 detonators and anti-personnel mines and other items of legacy ordnance.
All the items had either been collected by Captain Khan Muhammed, the head of the AUP’s IED disposal team, or handed in to the front gate of the Police Operational Co-ordination Centre in Lashkar Gah, where they are based.
The team, led by Captain Muhammed, are being trained and developed by members of the UK’s C-IED Task Force, who are working alongside 2 RGR, the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group. Petty Officer (Diver) Gareth Buffrey is in charge of mentoring the Afghan Police C-IED team:
The training and mentoring over the last couple of months with the AUP IED team has proved to be really successful.
Disposing of this amount of HME, improvised detonators and legacy munitions is not easy - there are obvious risks involved and it can be dangerous. But the day’s success was down to the enthusiasm of the AUP, their willingness to learn and the support of the Gurkhas.
The Afghans and their mentors loaded up their vehicles with the explosives and drove four kilometres out of the district centre to begin their task. With so much to get rid of, the ordnance was separated into two large piles. The Gurkhas then showed the Afghans how to prepare it so that it could be destroyed in a safe and controlled way.
When the mentors were happy that the site was ready, the last job for Captain Muhammed was to light the fuse that would detonate the explosives.
He and his mentor then jumped into their vehicles and made for safer ground to watch the results of their work - a plume of smoke that erupted sixty feet (18m) into the air followed a few minutes later by another loud boom.
Having completed several years of specialist training in both Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif, Captain Muhammed is one of the most experienced clearance experts in the AUP. Just last week he single-handedly discovered and made safe six devices - destroying them before they could maim or kill innocent people. He said:
I enjoy my job very much. It makes me proud because doing this job I have helped to save lives.
It’s hoped that through the training provided by the C-IED Task Force and the Gurkhas, the AUP will be able to carry out similar detonations by themselves in the future.