Kent-Based Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

15 July 2010, 08:18 | Updated: 15 July 2010, 08:32

The MOD has named the three Kent-based troops who were killed by a rogue Afghan soldier on Tuesday (13th July).

Major James Joshua Bowman, Lieutenant Neal Turkington and Corporal Arjun Purja Pun were all of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles that are based at Shorncliffe Barracks in Folkestone.

The Afghan soldier shot Maj Bowman, 34, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, dead in his sleeping quarters in Patrol Base 3 in Nahr-e Saraj district, near Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gah, at about 2am local time.

He also fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the base's command centre, killing Lt Turkington, 26, from Craigavon, Northern Ireland, and Corporal Pun, 33, from Nepal and wounding four other UK soldiers.

The Afghan soldier was named as Talib Hussein, 23, from eastern Ghazni Province, who was a member of the Hazara, a Shiite Muslim ethnic minority normally opposed to the Taliban.

He had been in the army for about eight or nine months, spending most of his time in Helmand, and was thought to have a hashish habit, the Afghan authorities said.

A Taliban spokesman told Sky News that the attack was part of a new ongoing operation called al Fath - or ``victory'' in Arabic.

A massive manhunt for the killer is under way, reportedly involving UK special forces.

The commander of British forces in Helmand Province insisted the murders would not affect the strong relationship between Nato and Afghan troops.

Brigadier Richard Felton said: ``We will not let this aberration knock us off our course to rid this country of the insurgency, and we can only really do that through our Afghan partners.''

It was the second time in eight months that members of Afghanistan's security forces have turned on UK troops.

Five British soldiers were killed and six injured when an Afghan policeman opened fire on them at a secure checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand in November.