Prince Harry at Camp Bastion during Taliban attack

 

Nato says Prince Harry was never in any danger despite the attack on Camp Bastion

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Prince Harry was at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan during an assault by the Taliban which killed two US marines.

American officials said small arms, rockets and mortars were used to attack the perimeter of the British base, home to troops from several countries.

The Taliban said it was a response to an amateur US-made film mocking Islam and later claimed the base was chosen because Harry was there.

Nato told Reuters news agency that the prince "was never in any danger".

Prince Harry, who is marking his 28th birthday, is in Afghanistan for four months on his second tour of duty.

The attack came as two Nato soldiers were killed by a man - thought to be a member of the Afghan local police force - who opened fire on troops in the south of the country. The gunman was subsequently shot dead.

The nationalities of the dead soldiers have not been made public.

On Friday, a British soldier - from 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards - was killed after his vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

Defence visit

Camp Bastion is situated in the middle of the desert with excellent visibility all around, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Kabul.

The base includes personnel from the Denmark, Estonia and Afghanistan, as well as the UK and US. No UK casualties have been reported.

Locator map of Afghanistan

It is extremely heavily fortified and questions will be asked about how militants were able to stage the surprise assault, our correspondent added.

The attack comes a few days after Defence Secretary Philip Hammond visited troops there.

Sayed Malook, a commander in the Afghan National Army said the evening attack, which involved up to 20 Taliban fighters and lasted four hours, began with a suicide bomb blast that breached the base wall.

An International Security Assistance Force spokesman said that 18 Taliban fighters had been killed and one captured.

Describing the attack as "significant", an MoD spokesman said it was "there has been some damage to equipment which is still being assessed" and a "clearance operation" was taking place.

He added: "After swift action by ISAF forces, including UK personnel, the incident was contained."

In a telephone conversation with the BBC, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadion reiterated earlier comments and said the attack was planned after they found out about the film US but added that Camp Bastion was chosen as the target because Prince Harry was there.

Brigadier General Gunter Katz, ISAF, said they were looking at how the Taliban managed to attack the base

Isaf spokesman Brigadier General Gunter Katz said the Taliban was "claiming a lot... They lose any credibility and it's very hard to understand what's behind the motives of those claims."

Violent protests against Western embassies have swept the Muslim world amid widespread anger over the film called Innocence of Muslims. They began on Tuesday in Egypt. On Friday, at least seven people died in escalating unrest in Khartoum, Tunis and Cairo.

There are fears of a surge in violence ahead of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

'Threats to kill'

Camp Bastion is one of the world's busiest airports because of the heavy helicopter and plane traffic.

But successful head-on attacks by insurgents that penetrate the perimeter fence, which is protected by hi-tech detection systems, are rare.

Earlier this year, a member of Nato forces was injured when an Afghan man drove a pick-up truck onto the runway, which then burst into flames, during a visit by US defence secretary Leon Panetta.

Ahmad Majidyar, of the American Enterprise Institute think tank, told the BBC that Camp Bastion was a more likely target while the prince was there.

"One of the motivations could be the presence of Prince Harry in that camp, because the Taliban some days ago warned that they would target and kill Prince Harry," he said.

Prince Harry examining the cockpit of an Apache helicopter with a member of his squadron Prince Harry will be commanding an Apache helicopter and the threat to him is regarded as "low"

Prince Harry is the first member of the Royal Family to see active combat since his uncle Prince Andrew fought in the Falklands War.

Captain Wales, as the prince is known in the military, arrived as part of the 100-strong 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment, Army Air Corps earlier this month.

His first stint between 2007 and 2008 was cut short after 10 weeks because his presence was leaked by the international media.

For this current deployment, the Ministry of Defence made it clear it was willing to confirm Harry's role as he will be commanding an Apache helicopter and the threat to him is regarded as "low".

British forces have lost none of their 67 Apaches, although there have been two minor crashes.

During his previous deployment, Harry was a forward air controller directing planes bombing Taliban positions in Helmand.

 

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  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 129.

    Salman Rushdie made some very wise comments in a Radio 4 interview this morning. However lamentable the crass video clip attack on the Muslim's prophet was, the response by sections of the Muslim diaspora is unacceptable, unlawful and a threat to the progress of democratic citizenship around the world. Freedom of speech must be upheld and excessive responses met with a firm, lawful response.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 128.

    To all those people saying that Prince Harry is wrapped in cotton wool, his superiors won't allow him to come to harm, etc, he is in a war zone and the enemy may have other ideas! Afghanistan is so unstable that I don't think any Westerner's life there can be described as secure.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 127.

    The West still fails to understand the simmering hatred that Middle Eastern countries hold against US...for 50 years the US propped up despotic, repressive regimes, in the name of stability....geopolitically it was about oil..

    Chucking money at Arab Spring countries won`t change the memories of brutal repression...

    Afgan is indicative of the mixed history of US Real Politick..

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 126.

    It would seem that my comment got removed because it quoted a comment that was subsequently removed. This seems a little unfair as it makes it look like I was the one at fault when all I was doing was pointing out the stupidity of the first comment! Could the moderators not have just edited my comment by placing some stars into the quoted text?

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 125.

    Remove my repudiation @65 BBC but leave the original post up? Sort yourselves out.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 124.

    "Nato told Reuters that the prince was never in any danger".
    During Russian occupation of Afghanistan they deployed Hind attack helicopters. As a result Britain gave the Mug. Blowpipe missiles but they were difficult to use. So America sent hundreds of Stingers which are a much better weapon.
    Lots of these disappeared once Russia left.
    If Harry gets shot down with a Stinger who gets the blame?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 123.

    "Films always make fun of religion especially the Catholic Church and you don't see them lashing out in violence and murder."

    That might (*might*) be true now, but oh boy, the Catholics have had their turn at this and then some.

  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 122.

    He just had to be there didnt he what about those who died did they spend their holidays in Las vegas in a hotel suite get real as already written he is a soldier and they face danger maybe his brother should be out there being a soldier after all thats whats hes paid and trained for?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 121.

    While we are hell bent on slating Islam, are we not forgetting the great many Muslims in the UK that also find this behavior abhorrent? They may not agree with the film, but they are well versed in peace.
    I know its easy to pick up that tar brush (I'm tempted myself), but not every Muslim is mental. Just some of the ones in the Middle East. Lets just get out completely and leave them to it.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 120.

    This is not news.

  • rate this
    +34

    Comment number 119.

    I'm shocked.

    Not because of this story, but the fact the top two highest rated comments have now been removed.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 118.

    Harry didn't ask to come home early last time an he wouldn't again. Hrs no coward and I wish him a safe return.

  • Comment number 117.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 116.

    "These represent a tiny minority of people, probably akin to the rioters and looters in London last year."

    Yet many experts, and other people interviewed who decided not to riot said the 'rioter' held the same views about the state in class difference in London. They just expressed it in the only way they know how.

  • Comment number 115.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +70

    Comment number 114.

    What they can insult us but we can't do the same thing to them? They don't allow Christians to build churches and persecute them in their countries but they feel they are entitled to build their mosques and expect us to respect them in our countries. Films always make fun of religion especially the Catholic Church and you don't see them lashing out in violence and murder.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 113.

    I once got caught up in an tense EDL demonstration. I guess that's the closest I'll come to imagining what the ME must be like.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 112.

    Yet another story involving a member of the Royal Family - please, as few as possible. There are other service people at risk. He shouldn't be treated or reported any differently.

  • rate this
    +42

    Comment number 111.

    I think that if you permit someone in his position to join the armed forces and be posted to an active theatre, you cannot possibly expect that he will be somehow kept entirely out of harms way. His position amongst his fellow soldiers would be impossible were he cossetted, and hey, he doesn't want that either.

  • rate this
    +27

    Comment number 110.

    Just goes to show what ignorance, fear, and brainwashing can do to ordinary people- turn them into barbaric robots who refuse to reason or think for themselves and believe harming others is acceptable. Such sad people and so wrong.

    Freedom of speech is precious for a civilized world and should be defended without fear.

 

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