Two British Gurkhas shot dead by insurgent wearing Afghan police uniform in Helmand

Rachel Rickard Strauss – Daily Mail Oct 30, 2012

Two British soldiers from the Royal Gurkha Rifles were shot dead in Helmand today by a man dressed in an Afghan police uniform.

The killings are the latest in a rash of ‘green-on-blue’ attacks, in which Afghan security forces turn their weapons on US-led foreign troopers.

Before today’s assault, 56 international troops had been killed in insider attacks from Afghan soldiers or police so far this year, according to the NATO military coalition.

Both soldiers were from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles and were killed in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.

A spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Laurence Roche, said: ‘I am saddened to report the deaths of two soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles who were shot and killed by a man wearing an Afghan police uniform at a checkpoint in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.

‘The loss of these soldiers is a huge blow to The Royal Gurkha Rifles and everyone serving in Task Force Helmand.  Our thoughts are with their families, friends and fellow Gurkhas at this time.’

The soldiers next of kin have been informed.

An Afghan police official in the southern province of Helmand said efforts were underway to apprehend the policeman involved.

So-called insider attacks on Western forces have undermined trust between coalition and Afghan forces as NATO prepares to withdraw most combat troops by the end of 2014.

Just last week two U.S. and one Australian soldier were shot and killed by a man in an Afghan police uniform.

The attacks come despite the Afghan government launching a large-scale push to re-screen thousands of security forces, trying to identify infiltrators or those who might not be considered secure.

The Taliban have said they are using the attacks as a specific strategy to drive a wedge between the international coalition and the Afghans.

Last Wednesday, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, released a statement saying insurgents would increase the number of insider attacks against coalition and Afghan forces.

In an emailed statement congratulating Muslims as they prepare to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday, Mullah Mohammad Omar urged ‘every brave Afghan in the ranks of the foreign forces and their Afghan hirelings … to strike them.’

‘Jihadist activities inside the circle of the state militias are the most effective stratagem. Its dimension will see further expansion, organization and efficiency,’ he said.

‘Increase your efforts to expand the area of infiltration in the ranks of the enemy.

The killings have stretched to the breaking point a partnership that U.S. and NATO officials consider a key part their exit plan – preparing the Afghans to take over responsibility for their country’s security in just over two years’ time.

The program, where Afghans and international troops are supposed to work ‘shoulder to shoulder,’ is now being re-evaluated.

Last week it was revealed two British soldiers shot dead in Afghanistan may have been the victims of a revenge attack by local police.

Corporal Channing Day, 25, of 3 Medical Regiment and Corporal David O’Connor, 27, of 40 Commando, Royal Marines, were previously thought to have been caught up in a so-called ‘friendly fire’ incident.

But after interviewing witnesses and recovering fragments of ammunition, Royal Military Police investigators have ruled out the theory that the pair were shot by British Forces.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman confirmed that the deaths were caused by ‘a third party… not UK personnel’.

And Defence Secretary Philip Hammond – asked whether the British personnel had been killed in a ‘green on blue’ attack, when Afghan personnel turn on their British partners – said: ‘There is a possibility that that is what has happened but it is not clear at this stage.’