The army veteran has criticized Prince Harry's claims that he killed 25 Taliban in Afghanistan

Colonel Tim Collins says 'we don't do notches on the butts' and the countdown talk could put Harry's personal safety at risk

The renowned British veteran has criticized the Duke of Sussex's claims that he killed 25 Taliban soldiers while serving with British troops in Afghanistan and warned that the admissions could put his personal security at risk.

Retired army veteran Colonel Tim Collins, famous for delivering uplifting speeches before the start of the Iraq war in 2003, said talk of the prince's assassination was harsh and "we don't go a notch on the butt".

Others said Harry seemed wrong to denigrate the insurgents by describing them as "chess pieces taken off the board", while the Taliban accused the prince of committing war crimes on his tour a decade ago.

Anas Haqqani, a member of the influential Afghan government, said: “The ones you kill are not chess pieces, they are people; they have families waiting for their return. Among the killers of Afghans, not many have had your decency to speak their conscience and admit their war crimes."

The claim features a count of murders in Harry's autobiography, Spare, and comes from the Times translation of the Spanish edition of his book.

The prince recounted in his memoirs his time as a gunner in an Apache attack helicopter while on his second tour of Afghanistan in 2012. It was possible to establish the number of kills, the prince said, because he was able to watch gun camera footage. every mission he's on.

Harry wrote that "in the age of Apaches and laptops" it was possible to establish "with certainty how many enemies I have killed. And I think it's important not to be afraid of that number. So my number is 25. It's not a number I'm satisfied with, but it's not something I'm ashamed of either.”

Later the prince admitted that he had looked down on the men he had shot in battle: “When I found myself immersed in the heat and confusion of battle, I did not consider the 25 men to be human. It was a chess piece removed from the board. The bad guys are removed before they can kill the good guys.”

Collins, in an interview with Forces News, took issue with Harry's comments. “Among his statements were claims that he killed 25 people in Afghanistan. That's not how you behave in the army; not what we think. He had let the party down. We do not make notches on the butts. We never did."

The former soldier accused Harry of engaging in a "tragic money-making scam to fund a lifestyle he couldn't afford" which, in a barely concealed side-sweep on his wife Meghan, was something "someone else had chosen".

Another Afghanistan veteran questioned how far Harry could be sure how many people he had killed. One former para said: “I've never heard anyone talk about murder counts, it's harsh and honestly horrifying. Taking lives is the most serious thing you can do in surgery, serious people don't talk about it as a game to change some books.

While it is not uncommon for soldiers to look back at gun camera footage to analyze how the mission went, the Afghanistan veteran added, “You don't always know who was killed or injured. No one goes to a flattened building to check."

A former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, retired Colonel Richard Kemp, said the comments could put the prince's security at greater risk. Extremists who support the Taliban may now be "motivated to kill Harry" because of the memories his comments have "evoked", he told Sky News.

Harry is suing the British government over a decision to withdraw taxpayer-funded royal protection for him and his family after he stepped down from royal duties in 2020. At one point in the legal battle, his lawyers said the prince "felt insecure". when he visited the UK, after a series of threats and incidents, including from far-right extremists.

There has been disquiet over the comments from some British Muslims, including from those who have publicly supported Harry and Meghan in the past but continue their support, at least for her.

Zillur Rahman, a lawyer specializing in defamation, said last year that the "fake and unhinged" articles written about the couple were "exactly" the case in the Muslim community. But on Harry's comments about killing 25 people, he said: “We've seen a focus on a number of killings in Afghanistan, which in some cases have included innocent civilians. I don't know who the targets were in Harry's case but of course I find them ominous.

“Maybe when he was in the army that was what life was like, and I hope he has moved on and changed his views, but if this is what the army instills in its personnel and how they are. educated to see others then it must be checked. Is this the mindset of soldiers and does it explain why some atrocities are committed?”

A Ministry of Defense spokesperson said the military would not address claims on Harry's murder count: "We do not comment on operational details for security reasons."

British troops were involved in combat operations in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014, and training efforts thereafter, before the west finally withdrew in disarray in the summer of 2021. The Taliban took over in August of that year, before the final withdrawal was completed.

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