Sniper celebrates with cigar after killing Taliban officer

A ROYAL Marine sniper from Edinburgh has described marking his first kill with a cigar after "slotting" a Taliban commander from more than 1000 metres.

British troops fighting in southern Afghanistan are embroiled in some of the most intense combat involving UK forces since the Second World War.

Meanwhile, Nato-led troops and Afghan police killed two suspected Taliban militants and detained four others in the latest round of fighting, a police official said today.

Crackshot Royal Marine (45 Commando) sniper Dallas Turner, 27, was among the soldiers who described their dramatic stories in their own words.

He said: "We were down in Garmsir [southern Helmand] on December 21 and we were in full view of the Taliban front line.

"They were firing at us all day but we could see only their heads pop up from time to time moving about their positions.

"They were hiding in abandoned compounds in the suburbs. I fired three rounds from an Afghan National Police sangar [sentry post] but I didn't hit anyone.

"The next day they [the Taliban] were back at the same position and one walked into view from behind a wall.

"He was just standing there. It was beautiful. He was only exposed a few seconds.

"I didn't need to adjust my rifle sights as they were set right from the previous day.

"Just like in training, I breathed slowly, inhaled and pulled the trigger.

"The 338 calibre bullet travels at about 800 metres a second so it would have taken just over a second to reach him.

"He was hit full in the upper chest. It took him a couple of seconds to drop but I knew he was slotted [dead].

"If one of these big 338 rounds hits you in the chest, even from that distance, it will cause a lethal amount of damage.

"I just graduated from sniper school late last year after nine weeks' training.

"It was my first kill. I had a cigar afterwards. I didn't lose any sleep about it. He was a Taliban commander after all."

The Taliban militants were killed and captured after ambushing a joint Nato and Afghan patrol in Mizan district in Zabul province on Sunday, said Younis Akhunzada, the district police chief.

There had been no casualties among Nato or Afghan troops, he said. It is not known whether the troops were British.

Police also recovered four AK-47 assault rifles and two rocket-propelled grenade.

In a recent four day operation, codenamed Operation Clay, Royal Marine Commandos wiped out a vital Taliban training camp, killing dozens of fighters.

The force succeeded in securing a safe passage to a mountain dam - once the biggest source of electricity in the whole of Afghanistan.

In dramatic scenes caught on army cameras, the Marines engaged Afghan fighters as they waded through a river.

Only one Marine was injured after he was shot in the hand. Also on Sunday, a roadside bomb ripped through a vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, killing a woman, her two newborn babies and the children's grandmother.

The father of the twins and the vehicle's driver also were wounded in the blast.

The twins were born on Saturday and the family was taking them back to their village.

It was not immediately clear why the vehicle was targeted.

Militants usually use roadside bombs to attack Afghan and foreign troops on patrol.


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