25 Aug 2011

Police turf war 'caused major delay' to Kabul rescue

10:48 pm on 25 August 2011

It is being reported there were major delays in deploying the Afghan Crisis Response Unit and SAS troops to an incident in Kabul last week that claimed the life of New Zealand soldier Doug Grant.

Corporal Grant, 41, a member of Special Air Service team, was shot trying to rescue people from British Council office during a Taliban attack last Friday.

Twelve people, excluding the attackers, died during six hours of fierce fighting in the capital.

A report on Britain's Guardian website says the stand-off between the city's police and the Crisis Response Unit gave the attackers time not just to overwhelm the fortress-like compound, but also to launch an assault on the reinforced door of the facility's safe room.

The report says that took far longer than anyone would have hoped, because of an argument over jurisdiction between different arms of the Afghan security forces.

It says the special forces chief got to the scene within 20 minutes, but his team was sent away by Kabul's police chief General Mohammad Ayub Salangi.

A reporter for London's The Times in Kabul says the dispute between local Afghan officials over who was in charge caused a four-hour delay before soldiers took over from police.

Jerome Starkey says that gave the insurgents crucial time to get into organised defensive positions, which made it much harder for the commandos and SAS to re-take control of the British Council building.

He says the Afghan general in charge told him the situation deteriorated badly during the delay before he was allowed to send in his troops.