Afghan protesters call for Prince Harry to be ‘put on trial’ over Taliban killings claim

Protesters in Afghanistan have demanded Prince Harry be “put on trial” after he claimed to have killed 25 people in the south Asian country while serving in the military.

The Duke of Sussex claims in his forthcoming memoir Spare that he killed Taliban militants while serving as an Apache helicopter copilot gunner in Afghanistan in 2012-13.

He likened the killings to “chess pieces removed from the board” and claimed those he had killed were “bad people eliminated before they could kill good people”.

“My number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me,” he wrote in the memoir, according to pre-release excerpts obtained by several media outlets.

His admission has been met with widespread criticism from several quarters, including former members of the British military as well as the ruling Taliban administration in Afghanistan. The militant group returned to power there after seizing Kabul in August 2021.

Around 20 faculty members and students on Saturday demonstrated at a local university in Helmand province, where British forces were concentrated during the US-led war in Afghanistan. Demonstrators carried posters showing Harry’s portrait with a red “x” across it.

“We condemn his action which is against all norms of humanity,” one protester told the Associated Press.

Mullah Abdullah, who lost four family members in what he described as a British airstrike in 2011 that hit his family home in Nahr-e-Saraj district, called for Harry to face legal consequences for his actions.

“We lost our house, life, and family members. We lost our livelihood and also our loved ones,” he said. “We ask the international community to put this person (Prince Harry) on trial, and we should get compensation for our losses.”

Sayed Ahmad Sayed, a teacher at the university, condemned the Duke, saying: “The cruelties which have been committed by Prince Harry, his friends or by anyone else in Helmand or anywhere in Afghanistan is unacceptable, cruel.

“These acts will be remembered by history.”

Earlier, Taliban leader Anas Haqqani lashed out against Harry in a tweet saying the ones killed were not “chess pieces” but human beings with families that were awaiting their return. He, however, added that few of those who killed Afghans “have your decency to reveal their conscience and confess to their war crimes”.

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He alleged “civilians and ordinary people” were targeted as the Taliban “did not have any casualties in Helmand” on the “days Prince Harry mentioned”.

Taliban commander Molavi Agha Gol went on to brand Harry a “big mouth loser who has been trying to get attention”.

“I do not even believe what he said about the Mujaheddin,” the commander said. “He is a loser and scared to go to a combat zone. We made history by kicking him and his army out of our homeland and he should be very angry about that.”