TRUE STORIES AND FACTS

THE AUSTRALIAN
Thursday 2 June 2011

A NEPALESE soldier in the British army has been given a top bravery award by Queen Elizabeth II for his heroics in Afghanistan, where he single-handedly saw off more than 30 Taliban fighters.

Corporal Dip Prasad Pun, 31, said he thought he was going to die and so had nothing to lose in taking on the attackers who overran his checkpoint. He was yesterday awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC), which is given in recognition of acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy. Pun fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to repel the Taliban assault, including an attack from rocket-propelled grenades and AK47 guns, on his. checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan, last September. Surrounded, the enemy opened fired from all sides and for 15 minutes Pun remained under continuous At one point, unable to shoot, he used his machine gun tripod to knock down a militant who was climbing the walls of the compound. Two insurgents were still attacking by the time he ran out of ammunition, but he set off a Claymore mine to repel them.

Pun was given his medal in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. The CGC is second only to the Victoria Cross -- the highest honour for bravery in the face of the enemy.

"There wasn't any choice but to fight. The Taliban were all around the checkpoint. I was alone," he said. "I had so many of them around me that I thought I was definitely going to die so I thought I'd kill as many of them as I could before they killed me. After that I thought nobody can kill us now -- when we met the enemy I wasn't scared." Britain's Major General Nicholas Carter, who was Commander of Allied Forces in southern Afghanistan during Pun's deployment, praised his efforts. "The CGC does not get handed out lightly. It was a most remarkable achievement," he said.

 

A Gurkha soldier, who fought 40 train robbers

DAILY MAIL, U. K.

Gurkha ordered back to UK after beheading dead Taliban fighter
By Christopher Leake
18th July 2010

Deadly: A platoon of Gurkhas demonstrate their skill with their kukri knives in a training exercise, after it is revealed that one of their regiment chopped off the head of a Taliban fighter in order to find proof of ID.

A Gurkha soldier has been flown back to the UK after hacking the head off a dead Taliban commander with his ceremonial knife to prove the dead man's identity. The private, from 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, was involved in a fierce firefight with insurgents in the Babaji area of central Helmand Province when the incident took place earlier this month. His unit had been told that they were seeking a 'high value target,' a Taliban commander, and that they must prove they had killed the right man.

The Gurkhas had intended to remove the Taliban leader's body from the battlefield for identification purposes, but they came under heavy fire as their tried to do so. Military sources said that in the heat of battle, the Gurkha took out his curved kukri knife and beheaded the dead insurgent. He is understood to have removed the man's head from the area, leaving the rest of his body on the battlefield. This is considered a gross insult to the Muslims of Afghanistan, who bury the entire body of their dead even if parts have to be retrieved.

British soldiers often return missing body parts once a battle has ended so the dead can be buried in one piece. A source said: 'Removing the head in this way was totally inappropriate.'

Army sources said that the soldier, who is in his early 20s, initially told investigators that he unsheathed his kukri the symbolic weapon of the Gurkhas after running out of ammunition. But later the Taliban fighter was mutilated so his identity could be verified through DNA tests. The source said: 'The soldier has been removed from duty and flown home. There is no sense of glory involved here, more a sense of shame. He should not have done what he did.' The incident, which is being investigated by senior commanders, is hugely embarrassing to the British Army, which is trying to build bridges with local Afghan communities who have spent decades under Taliban rule. It comes just days after a rogue Afghan soldier murdered three British troops from the same Gurkha regiment.

If the Gurkha being investigated by the Army is found guilty of beheading the dead enemy soldier, he will have contravened the Geneva Conventions which dictate the rules of war. Soldiers are banned from demeaning their enemies. The Gurkha now faces disciplinary action and a possible court martial; if found guilty, he could be jailed. He is now confined to barracks at the Shorncliffe garrison, near Folkestone, Kent.

The incident happened as the Gurkha troop was advancing towards a hostile area before engaging the enemy in battle. Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: 'In this case, it appears that the soldier was not acting maliciously, but his actions were clearly ill-judged. The Gurkhas are a very fine regiment with a proud tradition of service in the British forces and have fought very bravely in Afghanistan. I have no doubt that this behaviour would be as strongly condemned by the other members of that regiment, as it would by all soldiers in the British forces."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'We are aware of an incident and have informed the Afghan authorities. An investigation is underway and it would not be appropriate to comment further until this is concluded.'

The Ministry also revealed yesterday that four British servicemen had been killed in Afghanistan in 24 hours:

The British death toll in the Afghan campaign since 2001 is now 322.

Afghan troops trained by the British Army recently led a major operation into a Taliban stronghold. It was one of the first operations organised by the Afghan National Army.

Regiments proud symbol of valour

The iconic khukri knife used by the Gurkhas can be a weapon or a tool. It is the traditional utility knife of the Nepalese people, but is mainly known as a symbolic weapon for Gurkha regiments all over the world. The khukri signifies courage and valour on the battlefield and is sometimes worn by bridegrooms during their wedding ceremony. The kukris heavy blade enables the user to inflict deep wounds and to cut muscle and bone with one stroke. It can also be used in stealth operations to slash an enemys throat, killing him instantly and silently.