AN inquest into the death of five soldiers gunned down by an Afghan policeman has heard that local police officers disliked the Regimental Sergeant Major killed in the attack.
Warrant Officer First Class Darren Chant had been put in charge of mentoring an ‘undisciplined’ Afghan National Police (ANP) force at Blue 25 checkpoint in the Nad-e’ Ali district of Helmand province.
But within two weeks of arriving at the checkpoint, a police officer went on the rampage with an AK-47 – leaving WO1 Chant and four other soldiers dead.
An inquest heard the ANP officers disliked taking orders from WO1 Chant, a father-of-three from Horndean.
Lance Corporal Peniasi Namarua said: ‘As a group of people, the ANP did not like RSM (Chant) at all. ANP did not like RSM because he was trying to instil discipline in them.’
Lc Cpl Namarua said WO1 Chant spoke to the ANP as he would to British troops, adding: ‘I perceived they were offended.
‘I remember thinking at the time I don’t like the way RSM spoke to the ANP because they lack discipline anyway and I do not trust them. I don’t know why I did not trust them, it was just a feeling I could not shift.’
The inquest heard a police officer called Gulbuddin Mohammed shot the soldiers while they were having a break from patrols on November 3, 2009.
The checkpoint also came under fire from insurgents attacking from outside the compound after the attack, the court heard.
The police officers, who have been described as a ‘ragged bunch’, would sometimes refuse to go on patrol, not wear their uniform properly and disobey orders. The Afghan men also displayed sexual behaviour towards the soldiers and the court heard Gulbuddin had earned the nickname ‘Pretty Boy’ for touching them inappropriately. Another police officer wore nail varnish and some policemen were seen holding hands while out on patrol. There were also reports of sexual abuse of children by officers in the ANP.
Lc Cpl Namarua said: ‘My general view of the ANP was I was not happy. They had been sleeping in the same room together. I was not happy about that.’
Further concerns centred on the ANP taking photographs of the checkpoint, including of weapons and the water supply.
Lc Cpl Namarua said: ‘I was concerned just in case they gave information away to anybody outside the checkpoint. I told Sergeant Telford I do not trust them.’
The ANP were reported for taking drugs and Gulbuddin smoked cannabis while on a night watch with Guardsman Paul Steane. Two days after the attack, Gdsm Steane told MoD investigators: ‘Sometimes they could not even walk straight.’ The inquest into the deaths of WO1 Chant, Sgt Matthew Telford, Gdsm James Major, Acting Cpl Steven Boote and Cpl Nicholas Webster-Smith is due to continue until Friday.