March 14, 2006

NATO peacekeepers find huge Afghan weapons cache

KABUL (Reuters) - NATO peacekeepers in Afghanistan have
found the biggest weapons cache in recent years including 80
tonnes of TNT and 25,000 landmines, a NATO force spokeswoman
said on Tuesday.

The cache was handed over to authorities in Sheberghan, in
the Afghan north, under a drive to disarm illegal armed groups,
said a spokeswoman for the NATO-led peacekeeping force,
Commander Sue Eagles.

The weapons were stored underground in old Soviet bunkers.

An initial survey indicated one was full of detonators, two
contained 80 tonnes of Russian TNT, while another held 15,000
anti-personnel mines and 10,000 anti-tank mines. A fifth bunker
was still being explored.

Eagles said it was not clear who the weapons had belonged
to and an assessment of the haul was still being done. Various
factional forces have controlled Sheberghan over years of

"The important thing is that they will now be destroyed and
not get into the wrong hands," she said.

Taliban insurgents and their militant allies are fighting
to expel foreign forces and overthrow the Western-backed

Afghanistan is rife with weapons but the government has
launched drives to disarm various factional forces and take
their weapons out of circulation.