Britain condemns killing of three soldiers in Afghanistan

13th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister David Cameron vowed British troops would not change the way they work with the Afghan military after the "appalling" killing of three Gurkhas by a renegade Afghan soldier Tuesday.

The three soldiers, whose regiment is recruited from Nepal, were killed Tuesday in southern Nahr-e-Saraj in Helmand Province by an Afghan soldier who remains on the run.

British officials said "strenuous efforts" were being made to find him.

"I think it's absolutely essential that we don't let this appalling incident change our strategy or our approach," Cameron said, calling for a "proper investigation" into what had happened.

"The right thing for us to do is to keep with our strategy of working with and building up the Afghan National Army (ANA)... it's when that happens that we will be able to bring our troops back home."

Cameron also described the killer as a "rogue element" within the ANA.

Britain has around 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of an international force fighting the Taliban. Cameron has signalled he would like to see British combat troops withdrawing in five years' time.

A total of 317 British forces personnel have died while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations 2001.

The incident on Tuesday is the second time members of the Afghan security forces have turned on British troops.

Five British soldiers were killed and six wounded when an Afghan policeman opened fire on them at a checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand on November 3.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the latest killing was "a despicable and cowardly act".

"This incident will be thoroughly investigated by ISAF and the Afghan security forces, and we will do everything we can to bring the individual responsible to justice," he said.

"Training and developing the Afghan National Security Forces is vital to the international mission in Afghanistan and today's events will not undermine the real progress we continue to make.

"British and ISAF forces are working shoulder to shoulder with Afghans and will continue to do so undeterred."

The Ministry of Defence said the three were killed "in a suspected premeditated attack by a member of the Afghan National Army using a combination of weapons".

A spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, added: "Three soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles Battle Group were killed this morning in southern Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand Province.

"We believe these were the actions of a lone individual who has betrayed his International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan comrades."

© 2010 AFP

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