Taliban claim responsibility for killing five British troops in Afghanistan
- From: "Muslims Always Victorious" <zimbawi@xxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2009 20:31:23 +0200
Taliban claim responsibility for killing five British troops in Afghanistan
Alexandra Topping and Jon Boone in Kabul
Five soldiers were killed and six injured when a 'rogue' Afghan policeman
opened fire at a checkpoint in Helmand province
November 4, 2009
British army responds to killing of five soldiers in Afghanistan Link to
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for a gun attack that killed five
British soldiers and injured several others in Helmand province, the prime
minister, Gordon Brown told the Commons today.
The soldiers ? three from the Grenadier Guards and two from the Royal
Military police ? were killed when an Afghan policeman opened fire at a
checkpoint in the Nad-e'Ali district yesterday.
A manhunt has been launched to find the gunman, who apparently fired without
warning, then fled. Another six UK servicemen and two Afghan National Police
(ANP) officers were injured. Four of the soldiers were killed immediately
and the fifth died of his wounds, said the Nato-led International Security
Assistance Force (Isaf).
The incident happened at around 3.15pm at a checkpoint on the edge of Shin
Kalay, a collection of houses just 400 metres away from Nad-e-Ali district
centre. The gunman was on the roof of the checkpoint when he opened fire.
The platoon had been mentoring the police at the checkpoint for about two
weeks and had just completed a patrol of the area when the shooting
David Wakefield, the spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said troops were
pursuing the gunman and were confident they would find him as they had both
his name and photograph.
It was likely the British soldiers were not prepared to defend themselves at
the time of the attack, he said.
"The first thing you do when you come back from a patrol is to put down your
weapon and helmet, so although we don't know yet and it's subject to an
investigation, it's fair to assume they were not ready for the attack," he
Police in Helmand said the attacker attended a police academy in Kandahar,
southern Afghanistan, and had been working as an officer in the Nad-e-Ali
area for three years. A local tribal elder told the Guardian that the man -
named in reports as Gulbuddin - had come from Musa Qala, a town in northern
Helmand, and had recently had a furious row with Mohammad Wali, the man who
had been his commanding officer for the previous two years.
He began to work with a new commander called Manam at the Shin Kalay
checkpoint, who had tried to help patch up the relationship between the two
men. Manam was also injured in the shooting, said the elder.
The casualties were evacuated to hospital at Camp Bastion, with several
flown there in Chinook and US Black Hawk helicopters.
Two injured Afghan police were taken to hospital at Bost in Helmand's
provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.
Investigations have been launched by the Royal Military police, the local
chief of the ANP, Isaf and a team from the Afghan interior ministry.
The prime minister told the Commons that evidence was being gathered and
security would be stepped up after the shootings, but training of Afghan
police remained an "essential element" of the strategy in Afghanistan and
would not be stopped.
Top British, US and Afghan commanders also displayed a united front and
pledged that the incident would be fully investigated, at a press conference
in Lashkar Gah.
Brigadier General Mirwais Noorzai, deputy regional commander of police, said
Afghan officials were committed to uncovering the truth. "I have imparted
our sympathy and regret to the families of the soldiers killed," he said.
Asked after the conference how British troops would be able to trust the
Afghan police in future, Major General Carter said the army would develop an
understanding of Afghan troops through the training process.
"The first point I would make is that we have to trust the uniform of the
Afghan police," he said. "The second point I would make is that we will get
better at this ... we will train them, and we will make sure that they are
capable of doing the job in the way that they need to do the job."
Peter Galbraith, a former deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan ? who
left his post over disagreements about the presidential elections ? said
"rushed" attempts to train extra Afghan officers for the now cancelled
presidential election runoff meant such incidents could be expected. "It is
a terrible tragedy ? but it is, I won't quite say inevitable, but it is not
surprising," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
He said police usually received an eight-week training course but it had
been shortened to five weeks to have more of them available for the
elections, particularly in Kandahar and Helmand provinces.
"The process of police training and recruiting has been very rushed," he
said. "There isn't a lot of vetting of police before they are hired.
"It is not totally surprising that people were recruited who may have had
Taliban sympathies or were infiltrated into the police by the Taliban,
although I don't know yet whether in this particular episode that is exactly
The British armed forces minister, Bill Rammell, said recruits to the Afghan
police and the army were subject to vetting and intensive training. "Clearly
as a result of this incident there is an investigation and if there are any
lessons to be learned those will undoubtedly be taken on board," he told the
"The reality is that if we want to secure Afghanistan, if we want to make
ourselves safer and we don't want our forces to be in Afghanistan forever,
then that process of working alongside them, training them, building their
capacity, has to be the right way forward."
General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of Isaf forces in Afghanistan,
said the event would not deter the army's resolve to work with Afghan
national security forces. "There is a deep sense of loss as I know many
others feel and our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends
of our fellow soldiers," he said.
The defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth, offered his condolences to the
families of the soldiers and emphasised the need for the country to show
"resolve" in supporting the Afghan conflict. "It continues to be a difficult
year in Afghanistan for our brave people who are operating within the most
challenging area of the country," he said. "We owe it to them to show the
resolve that they exhibit every day in building security and stability in
Afghanistan and protecting the UK from the threat of terrorism."
The Tory leader, David Cameron, said: "I was deeply shocked to hear of the
deaths of five British soldiers in a single incident in Helmand province and
the horrific circumstances in which it appears they died."
Abdullah Abdullah, President Hamid Karzai's closest challenger in the
disputed Afghan presidential election, offered his condolences to the
relatives of the dead soldiers and stressed the need for international
troops. "Eight years down the road we still need more troops in the absence
of a credible and legitimate partner," said Abdullah, a former foreign
minister. "More soldiers and more resources are the only thing we can resort
The deaths make 2009 the bloodiest year for the British armed forces since
the Falklands war, with 93 deaths so far. There have been 229 British troops
killed since the invasion in 2001.
The latest fatalities came as a major rift opened in the British
government's support for the Afghan war, with the former Foreign Office
minister Kim Howells calling for the phased withdrawal of UK troops from
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