KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) â€” An explosion killed one British soldier and wounded another in southern Afghanistan Wednesday, and U.S.-led coalition and Afghan troops detained 22 suspected insurgents in two separate operations, officials said.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense in London said the blast hit as a British patrol was trying to disrupt Taliban activity in Helmand province. The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.
The wounded soldier was treated for minor injuries. The ministry said the death brought to 89 the number of British service members killed in Afghanistan.
The coalition said in a statement that the joint forces detained 11 suspected insurgents and discovered 1,000 pounds of heroin north of the town of Musa Qala, also in Helmand province.
A large weapons cache and a heroin processing lab were destroyed during the operation, it said.
Taliban militants were in control of Musa Qala for much of 2007, before Afghan, U.S. and British troops regained control of the town and its surrounding areas in December.
Officials estimate that up to 40 percent of the proceeds from the drug trade are used to fund the insurgency.
In Zabul province, coalition and Afghan troops raided a compound Tuesday and detained 11 men with links to a suspected insurgent leader, the coalition said.
During the raid, coalition aircraft bombed the area “to suppress several suspected insurgents during the search,” but there were no deaths or injuries, it said in a statement.
The joint forces were targeting a local Taliban leader suspected of attacking coalition forces and giving weapons and financial support to insurgents, the statement said.
“Afghan National Security Forces found six of the detainees, one of whom was identified as a Taliban leader, hiding in a concealed room in a mosque on the compound,” said coalition spokesman Army Maj. Chris Belcher.
The coalition did not identify the insurgent leader or other individuals detained during the raid.