Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Army partnership defended at inquest into Afghan killing of UK soldiers

The practice of embedding coalition troops with the Afghan army in Helmand was justified, despite an attack by a rogue local soldier that leftthree British servicemen dead, an inquest has heard.

Talib Hussein, a member of the Afghan National Army (ANA), shot Major James Bowman as he slept in his tent and then fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a command centre, killing Lieutenant Neal Turkington and Corporal Arjun Purja Pun.

The men's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Strickland, said it was important that British and Afghan troops worked together. "We felt that the closer the partnership the greater the trust between us," said Strickland.

Strickland also denied the suggestion Hussein may have acted in revenge after coalition troops attacked civilians. He said there had been no such incident.

The inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, heard that the men, members of the 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, were working alongside the ANA in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand. They ate together, lived together and fought together.

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