‘Salt in wounds’: Prince Harry’s admission draws anger from Afghans

Special ‘Salt in wounds’: Prince Harry’s admission draws anger from Afghans
Prince Harry scrambles to his attack helicopter in this Nov. 3, 2012 file photo. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 08 January 2023

‘Salt in wounds’: Prince Harry’s admission draws anger from Afghans

‘Salt in wounds’: Prince Harry’s admission draws anger from Afghans
  • Royal says he killed 25 people, ‘chess pieces’ taken off the board
  • US-led NATO war killed more than 176,000 Afghans

KABUL: A mixture of anger, pain, and confusion has been felt by Afghans on hearing Prince Harry’s admission of killing more than two dozen people while on military duty in Afghanistan.

The British royal served in Afghanistan, first as a forward air controller in 2007-08 and in 2012-13 when he was an Apache attack helicopter co-pilot gunner in the US-led NATO campaign against the Taliban.

In his memoir “Spare,” from which the British media quoted on Friday prior to its global launch next week, the prince said he had killed 25 Taliban fighters, describing them as “chess pieces taken off the board, bad guys eliminated before they kill good guys.”

The comment provoked outrage from Afghanistan’s current rulers, the Taliban, who seized power when foreign troops withdrew in August 2021.

“The ones you killed were not chess pieces, they were humans; they had families who were waiting for their return,” prominent Taliban member Anas Haqqani said on Twitter.

Suhail Shaheen, Taliban government spokesperson and permanent representative-designate to the UN, issued a statement accusing Prince Harry of being on the side of invaders and of committing crimes against humanity.

Prince Harry’s words also reopened the wounds of those who lost family members during 20 years of war that killed more than 176,000 Afghans.

“Hearing such news is like putting salt on our wounds. It’s not good, there is no benefit in doing so,” said Shaheen Fidaee, a resident of Kabul province, whose grandmother and uncle were killed during raids by foreign troops.

“We suffered a lot of victims and hardship in the last two decades.”

Akmal Khan, a social activist, saw Prince Harry’s admission of killing as just a “small example” of crimes by foreign troops in Afghanistan.

“We can say hundreds of other similar incidents were committed by them across Afghanistan in the past two decades,” he told Arab News.

Khan added that the remarks in the royal’s memoir were a “huge insult to the entire Afghan nation.”

Noor Mohammad, a street vendor in Kabul city, said: “He himself [Prince Harry] claimed he killed our countrymen as chess pieces.

“It’s so painful for us to be hearing such news.”

For Wahidullah, a shop owner in the Afghan capital, Prince Harry had “insulted all humans and the Afghan nation.”

Wahidullah, along with Khan and Mohammad, told Arab News that the royal should face prosecution from the international authorities.

However, some believe he was taking part in a military mission and should not be judged until all the circumstances are clear.

“The statement given by the UK’s Prince Harry is about incidents 10 years ago and during that period of war we had thousands of casualties in Afghanistan,” said Arzo Joya, who worked for an NGO before the Taliban banned women from such work in December.

However, she was surprised that Prince Harry remembered the number of those he had killed.

She added: “We should leave this issue for the future, until we get to know how he had committed this.”