Cameron cancels Helmand visit amid attack fear

David Cameron was today forced to abandon a visit to British troops in a frontline base amid fears that the Taliban were trying to bring down his helicopter.

The Prime Minister had been due to fly in to the patrol base at Shahzad in Helmand province to meet troops from the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.



But at the last minute the RAF Chinook helicopter carrying Mr Cameron and his entourage was diverted to the main operating base in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.



A Government source said that mobile telephone "chatter" had been intercepted in the area referring to a possible attempt to bring down a helicopter.



Such calls are not uncommon and it would not on its own lead to the visit being aborted.



However a second call was then intercepted referring to a possible attack on a VIP.



At that point the commander of Taskforce Helmand, Brigadier Richard Felton - who was due to meet Mr Cameron at the base - decided it was too dangerous for the visit to continue and it was called off.



Mr Cameron, who had earlier visited a British-funded agriculture school near Lashkar Gah following talks with President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, appeared unruffled by the incident.



After briefings from senior officers at Lashkar Gah, he enjoyed a barbecue with some of the troops there.



Aides said that he was "disappointed" that he had been unable to meet those at Shahzad where a mixed group of around 80 British soldiers and Afghan police are based.



The area had previously been seen as an insurgent stronghold and was hotly contested during the recent Operation Moshtarak in central Helmand.



However incidents and IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) finds are said to have "plummeted" in recent weeks and it was chosen for Mr Cameron's visit precisely because it was one of quieter areas in the region.



A senior aide to Mr Cameron said: "This highlights in the Prime Minister's mind the risks these brave men and women are putting themselves through on a daily basis."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Broker

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Vehicle Broker is req...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Data Capture / Telesales

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Front Of House Team Member

£16500 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific