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British special forces dog is captured by Taliban

Friday, 7 February 2014 - 10:13am IST | Place: Iraq | Agency: Daily Telegraph
The Taliban in Afghanistan have captured a British special forces dog, parading the forlorn-looking animal in a triumphant video released yesterday.
Representational picture. RNA Research & Archives

In footage published on a militant website, long-haired gunmen showed off various spoils of war, including captured weapons and a subdued-looking canine held by a chain.

The gunmen say it was snatched from American troops. However, military sources disputed that account, saying it was a British dog working with the SAS.

"This dog was named after a colonel," said one of the Taliban fighters. "It had a torch on it and its neck wore a GPS."

It wears the sort of complex shoulder harness used by military dogs so they can be hoisted rapidly in and out of helicopters and difficult terrain. The harness also appeared to carry a camera, suggesting the dog may have been used to check inside buildings. It looks better fed than local breeds and resembles a Belgian shepherd, favoured by the military for its endurance.

A Taliban spokesman said the dog was captured during a raid in the Laghman province east of Kabul on Dec 23, and referred to its name as "Colonel". "The Mujahideen put up fierce resistance and repelled the attack …The Mujahideen seized some weapons and also a dog which we later learnt the Americans called 'Colonel'," he said.

"Colonel" was alive and well, and his fate would be determined later, he added.

Pentagon officials said the dog was believed to have been captured around that date, which coincides with a British operation east of Kabul in which a special forces soldier, Captain Richard Holloway of the Royal Engineers, was killed.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "We are not commenting on the nationality of the dog and we never comment on special forces."

A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul confirmed that a dog had gone missing during a mission in December. "It is ISAF policy to defer identification to the appropriate national authorities," the spokesman said.

Hundreds of dogs are used by coalition forces in Afghanistan. Some work sniffing out IEDs, weapons or drugs while others have a search and rescue role.

The bravest are awarded medals and wounded animals are airlifted from the front line to be taken for treatment.

Last year it emerged that since March 2011 four dogs - two Labradors, a Springer spaniel cross and a Belgian shepherd - had died working alongside their Army handlers in Helmand, the southern province where British forces have been concentrated.

Dogs are considered unclean by Afghans, and not typically kept as pets. Their use by Nato in house-to-house searches has upset locals.

Four years ago, an Australian bomb-sniffing dog was lost in Afghanistan and then adopted by a Taliban leader who tried to sell her back. Sabi, a black Labrador, was eventually recovered by an American special forces soldier who retrieved her from an unnamed man in north-eastern Oruzgan. 




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