Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

UK soldiers describe shooting by rogue Afghan policeman

British troops in Afghanistan
Five UK soldiers were killed last year when an Afghan policeman opened fire

British soldiers wounded when a rogue Afghan policeman opened fire on them have spoken about their ordeal.

The shootings at an Afghan National Police (ANP) checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali, in Helmand Province, on 3 November 2009 left five of their comrades dead.

In Channel 4's Cutting Edge programme, soldiers injured in the attack reveal how they pretended they were dead to escape the rampaging gunman.

Guardsman Steve Loader said: "I've never been so scared in my life."

The troops had been mentoring and living with the Afghan police in a compound.

The members of the 16-man team killed in the attack were Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, 40, Sgt Matthew Telford, 37, Guardsman Jimmy Major, 18, of the Grenadier Guards, Cpl Steven Boote, 22, and Cpl Nicholas Webster-Smith, 24, of the Royal Military Police.

'Playing dead'

The Taliban said it was responsible for the killings, although UK military sources have suggested it is more likely that the incident was a one-off and unconnected to insurgents.

L/Cpl Liam Culverhouse, of the Grenadier Guards, said the policeman - who has been named only as Gulbuddin - shot him in both arms and legs as he tried to flee.

In the documentary, he said: "The guy came and checked that I was dead. I heard his footsteps and I could hear dust being kicked away from his feet.

You know it's just luck of the draw, whether it's you or not - and this time I got lucky
Guardsman Pete Lyons

"And then it stopped, and then it went back, so I don't know what he was doing at the time. I know he must have been checking I was dead because he stood over me."

Describing his thoughts at that moment, he went on: "When I was playing dead, I was thinking he's going to shoot me again, he's going to shoot me again. But he didn't. So, I'm lucky, very lucky indeed."

The interview was recorded just 16 hours after the attack took place, on board an aircraft carrying the six soldiers wounded in the incident back to the UK for treatment.

L/Cpl Culverhouse said he and his colleagues picked up a "funny atmosphere" at the checkpoint prior to the shooting.

However, he said they could not have predicted what happened.

He revealed that the troops were holding a competition to see who could catch the most mice when the policeman opened fire.

'So much blood'

"It just all went so fast, and then when he saw me he just basically unloaded a magazine firing at me. He only managed to hit me six times, thank God," he said.

Another of the wounded British soldiers, Guardsman Steve Loader, of the Grenadier Guards, said: "I have never, ever seen so much blood in my entire life, all over the floor, all over me, all over my legs, all over my hands.

"I don't know how we managed to get out of that situation and still manage to be here, all right, talking and walking.

"It's hard to explain, I just really do not know how we did it, someone must have been watching over us."

The soldier said he "thought that was it" and he had "never been so scared".

And Guardsman Pete Lyons, also of the Grenadier Guards, who was shot in the hand, said: "You know it's just luck of the draw, whether it's you or not. And this time I got lucky."

Cutting Edge: The Air Hospital will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 2100 GMT on 25 March.

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