Five Killed as Iranian Military Helicopter Crashes During Drug Bust
An Iranian military helicopter on Saturday crashed near the border with Afghanistan, killing five Revolutionary Guards on board and injuring 13 others, state television said on Sunday.
The aircraft was taking part in a clean-up operation in the border region against bandits involved in drug running, but crashed due to technical problems near the town of Torbat-e Heydariyeh, Reuters said, citing the TV report.
Iran is engaged in a bitter struggle against heavily armed drug traffickers in which more than 3,000 security forces have been killed.
On Saturday, police in Kashan, Isfahan province announced that three drug bands had been busted and 1.9 kg of heroin seized from them, reported the official news agency IRNA.
IRNA added that, in this connection, 10 drug distributors had been arrested and handed over to the judicial authorities.
Iran is a major route for smuggling drugs from Afghanistan and Pakistan to markets in the Arabian Gulf, Europe and beyond. Opium, heroin, hashish and morphine are hauled through the country, and single busts involving a ton or more of drugs are not uncommon.
Official reports say 3,100 Iranian police officers have been killed in drug-related battles throughout Iran over the past twenty years.
The government has spent nearly US$20 million during the past year in the fight against drug smuggling, and has armed thousands of villagers along its eastern border to help combat the traffickers – Albawaba.com