Friday, June 29, 2012

Afghan soldier killed digger: inquiry

LCPL Andrew Jones
previously served as a cook with Townsville's 1RAR
A MILITARY inquiry has concluded that Australian soldier Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was murdered by a rogue member of the Afghan National Army in a "cowardly act".

On the morning of May 30 last year, Shafied Ullah Guhlamon shot LCPL Jones near the latrines at Combat Outpost Mashal (Mashal) in Afghanistan's Chora Valley.

He was treated at the scene and had surgery at Tarin Kowt but doctors were unable to revive him.

The Afghan soldier himself was shot dead by US special forces troops - who had been assisted in their investigation by the Afghan military - near his home village of Khost three weeks later after refusing an order to surrender and drawing his pistol.

Defence force vice-chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin on Friday announced the inquiry into Lance Cpl Jones' death had been completed.

"He was murdered by a rogue member of the ANA (Afghan National Army)," Air Marshal Binskin told reporters in Canberra.

"His killing was a cowardly act of murder."

Air Marshal Binskin said LCPL Jones had worked closely with ANA members at the patrol base and there was no indication the man who shot him knew him or sought him out.

While there were no witnesses to the shooting, the defence force inquiry concluded on all available evidence that LCPL Jones was deliberately shot by Shafied Ullah Guhlamon.

Inquiries have also been completed into the deaths of Sergeant Brett Wood, 32, who was killed by a roadside bomb in May, and Sergeant Todd Langley, 35, who died from a gunshot wound to the head during a battle in southern Afghanistan in July.

The reports into the deaths of the two sergeants will not be released publicly because of privacy and operational issues.

Sergeant Wood, a member of the special forces task force, was a distinguished and highly experienced soldier who had been deployed to Afghanistan three times.

The inquiry found there was no need for a further inquiry into his death.

Sergeant Langley was "an exceptionally experienced soldier" who was on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan, Air Marshal Binskin said.

He was killed instantly on July 4 last year while co-ordinating support for a fellow soldier who was wounded.

While there have been no combat deaths so far in 2012, Afghanistan remained a "complex and dangerous" environment, Air Marshal Binskin said.

"It is a dangerous place and Australians are in harm's way every day," Air Marshal Binskin said.

"But their courage and professionalism is what I think is getting us through at the moment."

June 29th, 2012
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