British soldier captured and killed as Cameron begins Afghan visit

A British soldier was captured and killed by the Taliban after going missing from his base in southern Afghanistan yesterday. UK forces had searched frantically to find him after he disappeared, with all other operations in Helmand put on hold.

By nightfall the body of the man, from the The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was discovered. He was the first British soldier to be captured in Afghanistan.

The operation to try and rescue him coincided with an unannounced visit by David Cameron to Helmand to highlight military advances against the Taliban and discuss the planned transition to Afghan security forces.

The soldier had been spotted walking off with deliberation from the Sallang checkpoint, in Nahr-e-Saraj, a district which had experienced ferocious violence, in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Accounts given by local people placed the soldier, believed to be an NCO, at a village, called Kopak, in the company of a group of Afghan men, some in uniform.

Other accounts said he had been swimming at a canal adjoining the village before being taken away and then "sold" to a local insurgent commander.

According to a farmer in the area, Naimtullah, a foreign soldier in uniform was seen leaving Kopak and heading east along a dirt track.

General Sayed Malook, of the Afghan army's 215 Corps, whose troops are being "mentored" by British forces, said: "We believe that two ANA (Afghan National Army) soldiers were with the British soldier. They all went swimming, but then our soldiers lost him. They looked for him but could not find him."

The Taliban called news agencies in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to say a Western soldier had been captured and executed in the Babaji area. "The soldier was captured yesterday evening during a firefight. When the fighting got more intense we couldn't keep him so we had to kill him," a spokesman claimed.

The hunt for the missing serviceman threw the Prime Minister's brief visit into disarray as he was forced to change his travel plans at the last moment.

After arriving at the Camp Bastion military base in Helmand province yesterday morning, he had been due to fly to nearby Lashkar Gar. But the plans were scrapped as all available helicopters were scrambled to join the hunt for the soldier. The Prime Minister instead spent the time meeting British and American troops based at Camp Bastion.

He said: "I arrived here in Helmand province and said to the military: 'Whatever you do, don't worry about taking me around – throw everything you have got at trying to pick up this young man.'"

The Prime Minister said the incident would not affect his strategy for Afghanistan, culminating in the withdrawal of all British combat troops by the end of 2014.

Four hundred troops are already returning this year, leaving some 9,500 servicemen and women behind. Mr Cameron is expected to set out plans in the Commons tomorrow to pull out another 500 next year.

He warned there would be "challenges and problems right up until the end of this mission", but he insisted that insurgents were "on the back foot" in Helmand as the operation moved into a "new phase". He said: "We can see an increasingly confident Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police Force able to carry out more operations on their own and able to respond to more incidents on their own."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project