Wednesday, July 14, 2010

UK 'not desperate' to leave Afghanistan says Liam Fox

BBC Online

Defence Secretary Liam Fox says the UK is "not desperate" to leave Afghanistan and is there for "national security".

He also said mentoring Afghan security forces "distinguished an army of liberation from an army of occupation."

His comments come as a hunt is under way for a rogue Afghan soldier who killed three UK soldiers in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand on Tuesday.

One has been named locally by MP David Simpson as Neil Turkington from Portadown, County Armagh.

And a Royal Marine was shot dead in a separate incident in Helmand province, also on Tuesday.

The BBC understands that one of the soldiers killed was shot and the other two were killed by a rocket-propelled grenade. The Taliban have claimed the Afghan soldier responsible had joined their insurgency.

But Dr Fox dismissed reports the Afghan soldier was a Taliban militant.

He blamed a rogue individual for the attack on members of 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, and said the incident should be kept in proportion.

"We've always recognised the risks that are inherent within partnering and we have worked very hard to reduce these to a minimum.

"But we can never guarantee against the actions of a rogue individual.

"We're also very clear that the benefits outweigh the risks, because it offers the quickest and most effective way of delivering our campaign objectives and, ultimately, having UK forces returning home."

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