A rogue Afghan policeman who shot dead two British soldiers was a “champion” of Nato’s mission in Afghanistan, an inquest has heard.
A coroner ruled that Sergeant Gareth Thursby, 29 and Private Thomas Wroe, 18, from 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s) were unlawfully killed.
The pair were shot dead by a man, known as Gul Agha, on September 15 last year in Helmand Province.
Assistant Oxfordshire Coroner Alison Thompson said the men and their colleagues were fired upon “apparently without warning” by a man they had thought was their friend.
She told the one-day inquest there was no evidence as to what had motivated Agha, who she said “had every opportunity to make this attack because no one saw him as a threat”.
The inquest heard the elderly Afghan Local Policeman (ALP) allowed into the soldier’s checkpoint in the Nahr-e Saraj district with his AK-47 rifle.
Private Reece Noble, said Agha’s gun was “slung over his shoulder” and that there was nothing to concern him.
Lieutenant Callum Cameron, the Platoon Commander at the time, admitted it would have been unusual for the man to be let into the “welfare area” of the base with a weapon.
But he said he could only theorise that “highly experienced” Sgt Thursby would have made a judgment to allow him in because he was trusted.
Lt Cameron said there was no “blanket rule” on allowing visitors with weapons into the checkpoint, and depending on the threat level, soldiers within the checkpoint did not wear protective body armour, unless manning guard towers.
Lance Corporal Christopher Reynolds told how Agha, who had a long standing medical complaint was “pointing to his foot, he was saying ‘doctor, doctor'”, and he walked with a limp.
L/Cpl Reynolds said he checked the foot and called the on-site medic who explained that it was an old injury which she could not treat.
“He just seemed perfectly normal”, he said.
Lt Cameron said he was in the operations room when he heard “several loud bangs, ie shots fired”.
A short time later he saw Sgt Thursby on the floor “very much hanging on in there”.
“Sadly, Private Wroe’s wounds were very severe, he was shot in the head,” he said.
Private Dominic Hern said “I could see the ALP man stood at the back of Wroe with the weapon pointing at his head … he fired two rounds into Private Wroe”.
Lance Corporal Ian Young, who had trained Agha, was in the laundry area when he heard gunshots.
He said Kingsman Ryan Ward “fired a couple of rounds … I think that’s what dropped the ALP”.
A number of other soldiers fired shots at Agha and he was killed. Sgt Thursby and Pte Wroe were evacuated by helicopter but died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The inquest heard that their injuries would still have been fatal had they been wearing body armour.
The families of the two victims attended the hearing, along with relatives of Kingsman Ward, who committed suicide after attending Sgt Thursby’s funeral in Yorkshire.
Private Wroe’s father, Mick, said he had come to find out what had happened to his son and Sgt Thursby, and hoped “lessons can be learned from this”.
L/Cpl Young described Gul Agha as a “family man”.
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