The two West soldiers killed by a rogue Afghan policeman at a checkpoint on Saturday went to help him because he pretended he was injured, it has been confirmed.
The Ministry of Defence is expected to this morning release the names of the two soldiers, serving in the Wiltshire-based 3rd Yorkshire Regiment, who were shot in the south of Nahr-e Saraj in the latest so-called “green-on-blue” incident where insurgents infiltrate the local police or army ranks and then turn on Nato troops.
Yesterday, there was shock and sadness at Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster, which last week welcomed back the first company of soldiers to return from this summer’s deployment in Afghanistan. The soldiers that were killed were due back to Wiltshire within weeks.
Their families were informed of the tragedy, and asked for a period of grace before the identities were released.
Major Laurence Roche, army spokesman, said: “It is with deep sadness that I must report the death of two soldiers from 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, who were shot and killed by a man wearing the uniform of the Afghan Local Police at a checkpoint.
“The Yorkshire Regiment has suffered a deep loss and everyone serving within Task Force Helmand will want to send our condolences to the soldiers’ families and loved ones at this time.”
The deaths came a day after L/Cpl Duane Groom, from the Grenadier Guards, was killed by a roadside bomb.
Last night it emerged the two Warminster soldiers were part of a British patrol at the checkpoint to go and help the Afghan policeman after he claimed to be injured.
As the soldiers came to help him, he opened fire. He killed the two British soldiers before he was killed in return fire.
If confirmed – it is not known whether the attacked was a real Afghan policeman – the deaths bring the total number of Nato forces killed by a “green-on-blue” attack to 50 this year alone, including seven British soldiers, indicating a devastating new way for the Taliban to attack coalition troops. A purge of police and the Afghan Army of anyone suspected of being an infiltrator from the Taliban has seen about 700 ejected in the past month.
The deaths are another blow to the 3rd Yorkshires, and were met with shock and sadness in Warminster. Just last week, the first company returned home to a muted heroes’ welcome at Battlesbury Barracks, with more homecomings due in the next few weeks as the summer deployment gradually ends.
Corunna Company were the first to leave Warminster for Helmand in February as part of an advance party, but lost six of their men in a massive roadside bomb in early April, even before the bulk of the rest of the “Yorkies” had reached the war-zone.
Their seven-month stint in Afghanistan came to an end last week, but there were tears of joy and sadness when they returned back to Battlebury as they remembered the relatives who would not welcome their men and women home.