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  1. #1
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    Default Pictured: only days before they were gunned down

    Pictured: The British troops befriending Afghan villagers days before they were gunned down by renegade soldier




    • Liam Fox denies Britain is 'desperate to leave'
    • Taliban believed to be sheltering attacker
    • Gen Richards named new armed forces boss
    Without his helmet and sitting cross-legged on the floor of a compound Major James Bowman chats to Afghan villagers.
    The picture of him trying to gain the trust of the locals in the fight against the Taliban was taken 17 days before he was killed alongside Lieutenant Neal Turkington, 26, and Corporal Arjun Purja Pun, a senior Nepalese Gurkha soldier.
    They were gunned down in their Helmand patrol base by a traitor they had considered a trusted ally.

    In other images Major Bowman is seen chatting to some children and a village elder while Lt Turkington was photographed on patrol 20 days before the killings joking with a young Afghan.
    The images have emerged as the families of three British troops spoke of their devastating loss.
    The father of one of the soldiers said his death had 'hit him like a lightning bolt'.

    Enlarge Without his helmet and sitting cross-legged on the floor of a compound Major James Bowman, 34, chats to Afghan villagers

    Major Bowman listens to a village elder while on patrol. The officer was callously executed in his tent as he slept by a traitor he had considered a trusted ally







    Major Bowman, seen here talking to youngsters while on patrol, was in command of the military compound in Helmand where the attack took place


    Major Bowman, 34, who was in command of the windswept military compound in Helmand where the attack took place, was callously executed in his tent as he slept by a traitor he had considered a trusted ally.
    The soldiers were murdered by 23-year-old Talib Hussein, who is now the subject of a massive manhunt led by elite SAS troops.
    The extreme danger of serving in Afghanistan was underlined by the deaths of 12 Nato soldiers to extremists in just 36 hours.
    The loss of lives forced Defence Secretary Liam Fox onto the back foot yesterday, as he admitted Britain was now 'very keen' to pull troops out of the war-torn country - and hand over security to local forces.


    Enlarge Platoon commander Lieutenant Turkington jokes with an Afghan youth during a patrol in Helmand


    Enlarge In this photograph taken on June 24, Major Bowman (circled centre) and Lt Turkington (circled, right) pose for a group photo with their men at their patrol base in Nahr e Saraj village


    Enlarge
    Enlarge

    Lt Turkington (left) and Cpl Pun were killed when the rogue Afghan soldier fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the base's command centre



    Major Bowman from Salisbury, Wiltshire, was the most senior member of British forces to die in Afghanistan since Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe last July. It is the second time in eight months that members of Afghanistan's security forces have turned on UK troops.
    His family said: 'He was the best possible son and brother who will be sadly missed by his family and many friends.



    More...

    'He loved the Army and was very proud of the selfless work that he and his Company were doing.'
    Colleagues last night revealed another side to Major Bowman away from the battlefield, saying he 'would love to talk of England and weekends spent deer stalking, or the unsung qual ities of pigeon shooting'.
    The widow of Cpl Pun, from Khibang village in Nepal's Magdi District, said he
    'died doing a job he loved' after he joined the British Army in 1995.


    Security: Afghan soldiers receiving weapons training at the Afghan National Army training camp on the outskirts of Kandahar



    Afghan troops in combat training near Kandahar


    Durga said: 'Arjun Purja Pun was a tremendous husband. He was proud to be a soldier and died doing a job he loved. We are devastated by the loss of Arjun who was a loving husband and father.
    'We are proud of the fact that Arjun was prepared to do his duty helping the people of Afghanistan.'
    Lt Turkington, of Portadown, Northern Ireland, was fulfilling 'a lifetime's ambition' to serve with the world-renowned Royal Gurkha Rifles, his father Ivor said.
    KILLER WAS A 'TRUSTED COMRADE'

    The rogue Afghan soldier was a 'trusted comrade' who regularly acted as a go-between to settle disagreements among British and Afghan forces, commanders said.

    The betrayal by Talib Hussein, 23, was especially painful because he had been promoted to a sergeant in the Afghan National Army after impressing commanders with his apparent honesty and dependability.

    Hussein carried out his brutal attack at Patrol Base Three, a dusty fortress near Bababi in central Helmand, with a machinegun and a rocket-propelled grenade under cover of darkness.

    Hussein had been living, eating, sleeping and fighting with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, who were training and mentoring Afghan soldiers.

    But shortly after 2.40am, he launched his assault, entering Major James Bowman's tent and shooting him dead as he slept.

    Hus sein then ki l led Lt Turkington and Corporal Arjun Purja Pun by firing a rocket-propelled grenade at the shipping container used as the base's operations room.



    But he spoke of his constant fear of one day receiving a knock on the door from Army officers to inform him his son had been killed on the battlefield.
    Mr Turkington told friends: 'You expect the news to come but when it comes you never really believe it. When it happens it comes just like a bolt of lightning.'
    The Taliban said they were sheltering Hussein and claimed he had carried out the first strike in a new operation against Western troops called Al-Fath.
    And a senior soldier with the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force issued the chilling warning that allied forces were suspected of taking shortcuts on checking recruits' backgrounds - potentially allowing Taliban sympathisers to infiltrate the Afghan army.
    Brigadier General Josef Blotz said an investigation into the killings was likely to recommend improvements in the 'vetting and screening' of new soldiers.
    Defence experts have raised concerns that Nato is sacrificing quality for quantity during its recruitment drive because the exit strategy relies on building up an Afghan National Army from around 119,000 soldiers today to 134,000 by October and 171,000 by 2014. A Nato investigation will centre on whether the killer was an undercover insurgent, if his family had been kidnapped by the Taliban who forced him to act, or if he bore a grudge against the UK forces.
    As the manhunt continued, Mr Fox appeared to perform a U-turn by confirming for the first time that Britain had a 'timetable' to hand over control of the troubled nation to Afghan security forces.
    Mr Fox said Britain would press on with its strategy of training Afghan forces until they were capable of taking responsibility for security. 'We are very clear that the benefits outweigh the risks, because it offers the quickest and most effective way of delivering our campaign objectives and, ultimately, having UK forces returning home,' he said.
    The Defence Secretary was forced to dismiss claims that the UK was 'desperate' to pull combat troops out of Helmand amid dwindling public support for the mission.





    But he admitted the Government was 'very keen to hand over to the Afghan authorities their own security'.
    • A Royal Marine from 40 Commando has been shot dead while on foot patrol in Helmand. Next of kin have been informed. The number of British military personnel killed on operations during the nine-year war has now reached 318.
    Enlarge location of attack



    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worl...#ixzz0tl7ZA0gG
    Stay low and move slow !

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