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Afghanistan: More British troops killed by Afghan allies: followed by a soldier's suicide

British soldiers killed by Afghan policeman seeking medical help

Two British soldiers were shot dead by a trusted Afghan colleague minutes after he had asked for medical help for an old war wound, an inquest heard.

Sergeant Gareth Thursby, a 29-year-old father-of-two, and Private Thomas Wroe, 18, were killed in the shooting.
Sergeant Gareth Thursby, a 29-year-old father-of-two, and Private Thomas Wroe, 18, were killed in the shooting.  Photo: MOD/PA

The Afghan policeman was well known and respected in the local area and considered a strong supporter of the work of international troops.

Yet he inexplicably turned his AK-47 on soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, after laughing and joking with them at a military checkpoint.

Sergeant Gareth Thursby, a 29-year-old father-of-two, and Private Thomas Wroe, 18, were killed in the shooting.

The killings came last year amid a spate of attacks by Afghan forces on their foreign allies, in a wave of shootings that provoked panic among Nato commanders.

Comrades of the two men said they had been on alert for rogue policeman at Checkpoint Tora, in Helmand’s Nahr-e-Saraj district, but the killer had been well known to them on September 15, 2012.

Lieutenant Callum Cameron, their commanding officer, told an inquest in Oxford: “He had often been spoken of by the team.”

“He was known to be really pro-[international forces]. He was a real champion of the partnership.

“He was an older gentleman who had fought against the Russians and was very well-respected.”

The policeman worked at another checkpoint 500 yards away and because he was recognised was let in when he arrived at the gate.

He walked with a crutch and had previously told the British troops his foot had been injured when he fought against the Russian army in the 1980s. He carried a gun, but it was slung over his back.

Once inside he pointed to his foot and said "Doctor, doctor,"

LCpl Sarah Farrell, a medic, told other soldiers she had looked at his foot before and could not help the man, because he was too old.

The man appeared to take the rejection “on the chin” and went to the checkpoint's welfare area, where soldiers were socialising between duties, and sat down to share a joke and a cigarette.

Lieutenant Cameron said he was in the operations room when he heard several shots.

As bullets hit the wall of the room, the soldiers grabbed their weapons and covered the door and windows while trying to work out what had happened.

The officer said he believed there were a few more shots before it went quiet.

He went out and saw Sgt Thursby, of Skipton, North Yorks, on the ground and Pte Wroe, of Holmfirth, West Yorks, on a bench with blood on his head and neck.

He told the inquest there was an Afghan policeman on the ground, still moving and near an AK-47, with two British soldiers pointing their weapons at him.

Fearful for the safety of his troops, Lt Cameron gave the order to shoot the man.

He explained: "If this was a suicidal action I didn't want his last action to be pulling the pin on a grenade."

A helicopter emergency medical team was called in to recover the wounded servicemen yet neither could be saved.

Further tragedy followed as Kingsman Ryan Ward, who shot the rogue policeman, attended the funeral of Sgt Thursby on October 27 last year, returned home and hanged himself the following day.

Tags: Afghan, Afghanistan:, More, a, allies:, by, followed, killed, soldier's, suicide, More…troops

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Replies to This Discussion

So, two soldiers are murdered in cold blood by an Afghani - that the Brits have been ordered to trust and have to let into their secure perimeter.  That must be a very depressing situation to be in.  Your despicable politicians, who are too cowardly to fight themselves, force you to let the enemy into your home, so that you aren't safe anywhere.  How can a soldier understand this?

Then, Ryan Ward who lost two friends that day and shot the killer, returns to the UK for the funeral, then commits suicide. Would that be because the situation is hopeless perhaps?  When your politicians are so fickle and cowardly, when you are forced to fight a deadly enemy on unfair first-to-fire rules, when you are not even safe in your bed at night in camp because of concessions to the political program, when your friends are murdered then quietly forgotten about, WHEN YOU ARE NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO TALK ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU AND YOUR COMRADES, then, yes, its depressing and hopeless enough to make you want to commit suicide.

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