Gurkha soldier decapitates dead Taliban commander with kukri

Last Updated: Sunday, July 18, 2010 - 23:08

London: A young Gurkha soldier, who
allegedly decapitated a dead Taliban commander with his kukri
to prove the militant`s identity, has been flown back to the
UK to face court martial, a media report said on Sunday.

The soldier, who is in his early 20s, from 1st Battalion,
Royal Gurkha Rifles, was involved in a fierce firefight with
insurgents in the Babaji area of central Helmand Province when
the incident took place earlier this month.

His unit had been told that they were seeking a `high
value target,` a Taliban commander, and that they must prove
they had killed the right man, Daily Mail reported.

Army sources told the paper that the soldier initially
told investigators that he unsheathed his kukri the symbolic
weapon of the Gurkhas after running out of ammunition.

The soldier, who was not identified, is understood to
have removed the man`s head from the area, leaving the rest of
his body on the battlefield.

This is considered a gross insult to the Muslims of
Afghanistan, who bury the entire body of their dead even if
parts have to be retrieved, the paper said.

"The soldier has been removed from duty and flown home.
There is no sense of glory involved here, more a sense of
shame. He should not have done what he did," a military source
said.

The incident, which is being investigated by senior
commanders, is hugely embarrassing to the British Army, which
is trying to build bridges with local Afghan communities who
have spent decades under Taliban rule.

It comes just days after a rogue Afghan soldier murdered
three British troops from the same Gurkha regiment.

If the Gurkha being investigated by the Army is found
guilty of beheading the dead enemy soldier, he will have
contravened the Geneva Conventions which dictate the rules of
war. Soldiers are banned from demeaning their enemies.

The Gurkha now faces disciplinary action and a possible
court martial. If found guilty, he could be jailed. He is now
confined to barracks at the Shorncliffe garrison, Kent.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We are aware of
an incident and have informed the Afghan authorities. An
investigation is underway and it would not be appropriate to
comment further until this is concluded."

The Ministry also said that four British servicemen had
been killed in Afghanistan in 24 hours. The British death toll
in the Afghan campaign since 2001 is now 322.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, July 18, 2010 - 23:08

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