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Friday, July 07, 2006

Rorke's Drift, Afghanistan, Carry On !

Eight British soldiers battle with 1,200 Taleban at 'Camp Incoming'

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Our correspondent joins the training squad who are under fire daily at their outpost

The view from the tiny British outpost above the town of Tangye in northern Helmand province was picture perfect.

A river snaked its way through a gorge, the sun shimmered off the water and beyond the town of mud-brick houses lay the blue waters of the Kajaki reservoir.

But the illusion of calm was shattered by gunfire at 9.00am yesterday. “It’s a bit early for playtime,” quipped Sergeant-Major Karl Brennan, 35, a barrel-chested Yorkshireman, as he and his seven collegues rushed to the perimeter wall.

Through their gunsights they could see Taleban fighters attacking the last town in the district still loyal to the Kabul Goverment — a town whose nearby hydro-electric dam provides most of southern Afghanistan’s power.

One group of Taleban fighters was battling pro-government militiamen on the edge of Tangye. A second group, hidden behind a rocky outcrop, was using mortars and machineguns to attack an Afghan police compound on a hill overlooking our own position. The police were retaliating with an old Russian anti-tank gun.

“If we lose that hill we are in big trouble,” said Captain Chris Woodward, 28. “They would have a direct view on our camp.”

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