Afghan war zone is recreated in Norfolk

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Soldiers set for the soaring mountains and searing heat of Afghanistan will be sent to a mock war zone in Norfolk to prepare, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.

A £14m middle-eastern village has been created at the Stanford Training Area, near Thetford, to help train thousands of troops.

Despite being set in one of the country's flattest areas, the MoD said it replicated "as closely as possible" the scenes and smells troops would face on the front line. The village will include a network of claustrophobic alleyways with high walls, a bustling market place and busy family homes. The MoD said Afghan nationals would play the role of insurgents.

General Sir David Richards, Commander-in-Chief Land Forces, said: "Our soldiers need to be put to the test in as realistic a manner as we can devise."