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Cache of roadside bomb materials seized in Afghanistan

Canadian soldiers were involved in an operation in Afghanistan last week that uncovered one of the largest caches of improvised explosive device-making materials in recent months, military officials said Monday.

Canadian soldiers were involved in an operation in Afghanistan last week that uncovered one of the largest caches of improvised explosive device-making materials found in recent months, military officials said Monday.

The operation called Shahi Tander, translated as Royal Thunder, took place Jan. 7-9 in the village of Nasser in the Khakrez district of Kandahar province.

Canadian military officials called it a "major success" in an area they described as a major Taliban stronghold. 

"It was an operation primarily designed to disrupt their IED facility, to make sure that we could take their stores and prevent them from putting in more IEDs within the areas of operations," said Maj. Marc Saint-Yves, deputy commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion.

The cache included about 40 pressure plates, 150 detonators and several jugs of explosives.

Officials said elements of a Canadian battle group took part in the operation alongside Britain's 42 Royal Marine Commando unit, which was under Canadian command.

It was the same operation that killed Trooper Brian Good, the 107th Canadian soldier to die since the mission in Afghanistan began in 2002.

Military officials said soldiers from the 42 Royal Marine Commando unit rushed back to Kandahar Airfield to attend a ramp ceremony for Good last Thursday while Canadians finished the operation.

Also Monday, the United Nations warned that its mine-clearing agency in Afghanistan needs $500 million to meet its goal of ensuring the country is free of mines by 2013.

"We are at a very critical point, and this country and people cannot afford to see a devastating situation where not much money will come," Haider Reza, program director of the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan told a news conference in Kabul.

Reza said he will try to tap new donors such as the Gulf States to reach the funding goal, which is threatened by the worldwide economic downturn.

Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, and the UN estimates a third of the country still needs to be cleared.

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