The pride of the Gurkhas: Last pictures of three heroes killed by rebel Afghan soldier
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 17, 2010
Mirror By Emily Nash
The commander of A Company, 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, is pictured with his troops days before his death by a
rebel Afghan soldier.
A few feet to his left – on his right in our picture – amid raised ceremonial Kukri knives, is Lieutenant Neal Turkington, 26, who died with Corporal Arjun Purja Pun, 33, when the renegade launched a rocket-propelled grenade at their patrol base early on Tuesday morning.
The photo was taken 19 days before Afghan National Army sergeant Talib Hussein, 23, launched the attack at the camp in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand.
Hussein, who is currently being hunted by Special Forces, ruthlessly executed Major Bowman as he slept in his tent, before killing his comrades and injuring four more Gurkhas in the grenade attack and fleeing to the shelter of Taliban supporters.
His treachery has stunned Afghan and British servicemen, who regarded him as a reliable and trusted colleague. Maj Bowman, 34, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, was the second most senior British serviceman to die in the nine-year conflict after Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe las st July. Yesterday, the father of Lt Turkington, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, told how the news of his loss had struck the family “like a lightning bolt”.
Ivor Turkington said: “You expect the news to come but when it comes you never really believe it. It comes like a bolt of lightning.”
Cpl Pun, who had been serving in the British Army since 1995, had been deployed to Afghanistan to replace a colleague wounded on the battlefield just a month before his death.
Helmand governor Gulab Mangal said he believed that foreign terrorists – possibly connected to al-Qaeda – might have been behind the massacre because it was so well organised.
But Lieutenant General Sir Nick Parker, the most senior British commander in the country, said that it was too early to know exactly how the attack was planned and carried out.
As he visited shocked troops at the Patrol Base, he added: “My gut feeling is that there was some external involvement.There was certainly someone who at least looked like Afghan National Army who was involved, but we shall have to let the investigation work out exactly what happened.”