Posts Tagged ‘Helmand’
Dear Sir David Cameron,
I have served in the British army and the British foreign office as an interpreter for five and half years. As a result, I have received death threats from the Taliban. My brother was nearly assassinated and the Taliban fired a rocket at my house as a warning. Many times insurgents have threatened to kill me and my family. I tried to tell the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand about my life being in danger. But they ignored me.
Two weeks ago, the PRT officials told me I could no longer work for them because they wanted to cut their budget in Helmand. They said the threats to my life were not their problem because I no longer worked for them and so they were no longer responsible for what happens to me. I lost my job a few days after I gave an interview with Sunday Times, highlighting my troubles.
The PRT has treated me like a person who has never worked for her majesty’s government. It took them two hours to get rid of me from the base in Helmand despite the dangers they knew I will face if I return home.
I risked my life for British forces and the British government. I believed in making a difference in Afghanistan on behalf of the British. Yet how do they repay me? They took my job, which means they repay me by sending me to die at the hands of the Taliban. I feel like they have condemned me to death.
I am frightened, alone and in hiding. I cannot leave my house to find a job because of the fear. I beg you sir to help me and my young family escape the death that waits for us. No amount of money can change the dangers that face us if we stay in Afghanistan.
I would be forever grateful if you would help me on behalf of the British people. Thank you for listening.
AN AFGHAN interpreter who faces the threat of being killed by the Taliban after being dismissed from his job with British forces has written to David Cameron, urging the prime minister to help him “escape the death” that awaits him and his young family.
Wahidullah Noori, 25, who served British soldiers and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for 5½ years, gave an interview to The Sunday Times three weeks ago in which he highlighted the government’s failure to protect interpreters who receive death threats from the Taliban.
A week later, British officials in Helmand told Noori he was being made redundant. They said they could no longer afford his monthly wage of £710.
Noori says he was given two hours to pack his bags before they walked him to the gates of the British base in Lashkar Gah, Helmand’s capital.
Refusing to let him stay the night while he waited for a flight to Kabul, they told him to find a hostel in Lashkar Gah, where Taliban spies and gunmen are known to operate.
“I risked my life for British forces and the British government,” wrote Noori, who has a three-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter, in his letter to Cameron. “Yet how do they repay me? They took my job, which means they repay me by sending me to die at the hands of the Taliban.
“I am frightened, alone and in hiding. I cannot leave my house to find a job because of the fear. I beg you, sir, to help me and my young family escape the death that waits for us.”
News of Noori’s dismissal came as Cameron indicated that only in extreme cases would interpreters be allowed to resettle in Britain.
Iraqi interpreters were given the right to come to Britain after the war in Iraq but Cameron wants the Afghans to be given money and encouraged to stay and rebuild their country. Read the rest of this entry »
The bullet tore into the British sniper’s hip and knocked him to the ground. Surrounded by Taliban fighters after being pinned down by heavy fire inside a mud compound for seven hours, British soldiers suffering from heat exhaustion dragged the wounded corporal from the rooftop and into an inner courtyard.
They bent him over a table, stuffing bandages and gauze into the wounds to stem the flow of blood.
Attack helicopters circling above the compound strafed the surrounding wheat fields with chain guns to prevent Taliban fighters from attacking the medical evacuation helicopter when it landed.
As the American helicopter came into sight, soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion, The Rifles, staggered out of the compound carrying the sniper on a stretcher. Taliban bullets zipped overhead.
Lying inside the helicopter, the corporal apologised for “letting the team down”. High on morphine, he demanded his pistol to fend off the Taliban creeping through the fields around their position.
The company’s sergeant-major ejected the magazine from his pistol and cleared a round from the barrel, handing the empty weapon back to the wounded sniper. The corporal shouted above the din of rotor blades before the helicopter, still under fire, lifted him to safety.
The men of A Company had mounted an air assault into the village of Alikozai on May 18, swiftly becoming embroiled in a 12-hour gun battle with as many as 50 Taliban fighters, according to soldiers who took part.
Battles of this ferocity have dropped in number since US Marines took control of Helmand’s most violent districts last year, allowing the British to concentrate more troops in the centre of the province.
As a result, British forces have gradually begun to wrest territory from the Taliban, killing or capturing dozens of insurgent commanders.
David Cameron said on a visit to Afghanistan last week that the conflict had entered a new phase. Afghan security forces were increasingly capable of handling security in Helmand, the Prime Minister said. He pointed to Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, which is due to be formally handed over on July 20, as an example.
Having announced that 426 British troops would be withdrawn by next February, Cameron said a further 500 would depart by the end of next year.
British officials who say the war is being won on the ground believe victory will ultimately be defined by the extent to which the Afghan army and police protect territorial gains from Taliban incursion as they leave. They believe the progress of recent months can be sustained.
But while the Afghan army has been moulded into a force regarded by British officers as “superb in a firefight”, its reluctance to perform basic tasks such as planning operations is causing frustration.
“At the moment, without us cajoling, pushing or pleading, the Afghan army would sit on their arse and do f*** all,” said a British officer advising the Afghan army in Helmand.
As for the Afghan police, coalition officers remain concerned about recruitment, corruption and involvement in the opium trade.
So will security forces that still find it hard to feed and water their men crumble under Taliban pressure? Or will the “counterinsurgency savvy” Afghan soldiers keep them at bay? Read the rest of this entry »
Their faces concealed with chequered scarves, the Taliban assassins found Haji Zahir Arian sitting on cushions in the living room of a friend’s house. They wasted no time in striking a blow against peace.
The first hitman to enter the small room raised his rifle and loosed off four rounds as Arian, the deputy head of the peace council in Helmand province, lifted his arms to shield himself.
One of the bullets grazed the 59-year-old’s underarm, striking a wall behind him. The other three rounds thudded into his chest, causing his body to convulse against the wall before it slid to the floor.
The Taliban fled, leaving Arian’s friend, Najibullah Popal, trembling with fear as he watched the body ooze blood into the cushions.
Afghan policemen guarding a checkpoint just 100 yards away failed to give chase as the gunmen sped off in a black Toyota Corolla. “Who killed him?” asked Ghulam Farooq, a colleague and close friend of Arian whose uncle was strangled by the Taliban two months ago. “The security forces killed him, by failing to protect him.”
The assassination of Arian on April 23 is one of several attacks in which the Taliban have singled out “soft targets” inside Lashkar Gah, Helmand’s capital, in recent months.
The killings are aimed at destabilising the town as British troops prepare formally to transfer control to Afghan security forces next month. The handover marks the beginning of the end of British and American military engagement in Helmand. Read the rest of this entry »
On the day Nazia’s two-year-old son fell ill with acute diarrhoea, American soldiers engaged in a shootout with the Taliban near the family home in Helmand province.
Terrified of being killed in the crossfire, Nazia sheltered indoors for five days before braving the dirt track that led to the local clinic. By then, Abdul was close to death.
As night fell, Nazia’s husband could not find a taxi driver willing to risk the journey to hospital on Helmand’s dangerous roads. They had to wait till the next night to get to Bost hospital, in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, which has the only paediatric ward in the area.
Nazia was lucky: when she reached the hospital last Tuesday nurses fed a diet of enriched milk to her malnourished child. The doctors said Abdul would survive.
The Helmand paediatric ward is supported by staff from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The hospital in which it sits is one of only two 24-hour hospitals that serve southern Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry »