News Article

Coldstream Guards find torture chamber

A Military Operations news article

11 Mar 08

A torture chamber used by Taliban groups on local Afghanis in Helmand's Green Zone has been uncovered by British and Afghan National Army troops. Report by Neil Chandler.

The torture chamber Long Description of Image

The torture chamber found in Helmand's Green Zone
[Picture: MOD]

Members of the Coldstream Guards were on an infantry patrol north of Forward Operating Base Keenan in the Upper Gereshk Valley when their colleagues in the Afghan National Army (ANA) alerted them to the discovery.

In the 8ft (2.4m) by 4ft (1.2m) underground chamber they found chains used to string up prisoners hanging from the walls.

They also found a pair of shackles on the blood-soaked floor alongside bamboo canes thought to have been used on chained-up prisoners.

Also in the room were two Afghan police uniforms – one of which had the crotch ripped out – plus the butt of a Kalashnikov assault rifle and wires carrying full electric power.

It is believed two Afghans – who defied the Taliban by joining the police force – were strung up and brutally beaten there.

The UK patrol used three phosphorus grenades to destroy the cell.

Mortar fire controller Lance Corporal Steve Walker said:

"We heard the Afghan National Army had been badly spooked by something. They had found a torture chamber and we went down a set of steps to the 8ft by 4ft room.

"Chains were hanging from the ceiling, broken glass was on the floor and bamboo sticks which we presume were for beatings. There was definitely dried blood on the floor. I knew that sort of stuff probably goes on but you don't expect to come across it."

A pair of shackles Long Description of Image

A member of the Coldstream Guards with a pair of shackles found in the torture chamber
[Picture: MOD]

Sergeant Matty Wallace said:

"The ANA went nuts, shouting 'Talib! Talib! Talib!'. Someone had clearly done business in there. The locals said they'd seen people going in but hadn't seen all of them come out."

Major Tom Charles, Officer Commanding 3 Company, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, said:

"The Taliban are very ruthless. They won't think twice about torture and threaten locals with beheading. The ANA can sometimes spot the local vibes better than us."

The Coldstream Guards are based at FOB Keenan to stop Taliban insurgents coming back to the area after they were driven from the Upper Gereshk Valley in a massive operation last year.

As soon as the Coldstream Guards arrived in the area they were tested by eight Taliban attacks which they saw off, as Colour Sergeant Major Spencer Wright explained:

"We gave them a fairly good mulleting."

The increased security in the area has meant local people have been returning to their homes. But as the weather improves the Guards expect the Taliban to step up attacks on them once again.

Major Charles added:

"The Taliban don't like the cold. I'll be interested to see what happens now we've had a change in the weather."

This article appears courtesy of Daily Star on Sunday.

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