Servicemen shot by Afghan soldier 'with a personal grievance'
- 21 February 2013
- From the section England
Two soldiers were gunned down by a rogue Afghan soldier with a "personal grievance" after a row at the gates of their base, an inquest has heard.
Sgt Luke Taylor, 33, from Bournemouth, and Burnley-born L/Cpl Michael Foley, 25, were shot dead at British forces' HQ in Helmand last March.
Afghan troops had been turned away prompting an angry reaction.
L/Cpl Foley was shot in the head and neck as he opened the gate and Sgt Taylor died in the ensuing firefight.
He was hit in the left side of his chest with the bullet damaging his lung and aorta.
The inquest in Oxford heard the Afghan was waiting outside the base with other men to collect a VIP on 26 March 2012.
They were not allowed to enter the base due to security arrangements and became increasingly agitated.
Shortly after 10:00 a nearby gate was opened as a local interpreter was escorting a civilian from the base.
No insurgency link
Deputy coroner Alison Thompson said: "That opening of the gate provided an opportunity for a man with an intent."
After bursting through the gate, the Afghan National Army (ANA) sergeant unloaded rounds from a machine-gun before being shot dead, the hearing heard.
Ms Thompson added: "The ANA soldier was believed to be acting on his own with a personal grievance rather than with insurgents. This was a shocking, appalling, unexpected thing to happen."
Maj Anthony Fyson told the inquest that the ANA sergeant had been deployed in Helmand for four years and there was "no evidence linking him to the insurgency".
Speaking about the threat levels at Lashkar Gar HQ on the day of the shooting, he said all UK soldiers were "aware of the threat" from ANA soldiers.
Security at the base has been increased following the attack.
The men's widows tried to get the inquest adjourned to enable another British soldier to be called as a witness.
They wanted Cpl David Rose, who was on cover position at the gate, to answer questions about why he was seated at the time of the attack.
In a written statement he said he was near the gate with a full view of it.
But Ms Thompson ruled against the application saying her "legal role is to ascertain how the men died" not if the deaths could have been prevented.
She said, although sympathetic to the families' position, she did not want the inquest to become "a witch-hunt" where blame was cast.
"It is not for me to make criticism of the soldiers and the way they operated, or attack individuals in relation to their responsibility for this tragic event."
The coroner recorded verdicts of unlawful killing while on active service overseas.
Royal Marine Sgt Luke Taylor and L/Cpl Foley, of the Adjutant General's Corps, were praised by their commanding officers.
Speaking outside the court, L/Cpl Foley's widow, Sophie Foley, said: "I finally want to pay tribute to my beloved husband Michael.
"I love him and I miss him so much.
"I take comfort in that he lives on in our beautiful children, shining up as a star."