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Prince Harry has been criticized by the British military after he claimed to have killed 25 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan

Prince Harry has been criticized by the British military after he claimed to have killed 25 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan

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London
CNN

Prince Harry drew criticism from some British security and military officials – as well as an angry rebuke from the Taliban – after saying that his autobiography that he killed 25 of the insurgent group’s fighters while serving with the British Army in Afghanistan.

Harry revealed the figure in his forthcoming autobiography “Spare”, according to Britain’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which said it had received a copy of the Spanish version of the book ahead of its official release, scheduled for Tuesday, January 10.

“My number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but it doesn’t embarrass me either,” Harry wrote. In another section, he is quoted as describing Taliban insurgents as “chess pieces” removed from the board rather than people.

CNN has not seen a copy of the book, but has requested an advance copy of the book from publisher Penguin Random House. A number of British media outlets obtained copies in Spanish on Thursday and cited translated excerpts.

The prince’s comments sparked a backlash from members of the military community, with leading figures saying they could jeopardize his safety and bring the British military into disrepute.

Former UK national security adviser Kim Darrock, who was Britain’s ambassador to the United States from 2016 to 2019, told Sky News he would advise Harry not to make any statements. And Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired British Army officer, told the same network that they had “tarnished” his reputation and “unfairly” painted the British Army in a negative light.

“His suggestion that he killed 25 people is going to re-incite those people who wish him ill,” Kemp said. “Let’s hope they don’t make it and I’m sure he’s got pretty good security, but that’s one problem.

“The other problem I found with his comments was that he characterized the British Army as basically training him and other soldiers to see their enemy as less than human, just like chess pieces on a board to be wiped out, which is not so. This is the opposite of the case,” he added.

The ruling Taliban, who returned to power in 2021 after two decades and are once again waging a brutal crackdown on women’s rights, also reacted angrily to Harry’s comments.

“Mr. Hari! Those you killed were not chess pieces, they were human beings; they had families waiting for their return,” said Anas Haqqani, who works as an acting adviser to the interior minister and is the founder’s son of the Haqqani Jalaluddin Haqqani network.

“Among the killers of Afghans, there are not many who have the decency to open their conscience and admit their war crimes,” he added.

Prince Harry served in the British Army for 10 years. He completed two tours of Afghanistan, one from 2007 to 2008 and the other from 2012 to 2013. He attained the rank of captain in 2011 and qualified as an Apache pilot. Captain Harry Wells, as he was known in the army, retired from the service in 2015.

While serving with the British Army in Afghanistan, Harry said he watched back footage of each “kill” from the nose-mounted camera of his Apache helicopter after returning to base, the Telegraph reports.

Former Royal Marine Ben McBean, who Harry served alongside in Afghanistan, also tweeted on Thursday: “I love you #PrinceHarry but you need to shut up! Makes you wonder the people he hangs out with. If they were good people, someone would have told him to stop by now.”

It is unclear whether McBean was specifically referring to Harry’s comments about his time in the army, or more generally about a bunch of other revelations in Harry’s memoirs, which caused an uproar in the British royal family.

Early reports of the book’s contents dominated UK front pages and threatened a new headache for Harry’s father, King Charles III, and his brother, Prince William.

Perhaps the most dramatic revelation to emerge was the claim that William physically attacked Harry during an argument in 2019, first reported by The Guardian.

CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and Ivana Kotasova contributed to this report.


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