Britain hails hero soldier killed in Afghanistan

LONDON - Britain hailed the courage Wednesday of a British soldier killed in a raid to free a New York Times reporter held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, while lamenting the death of his Afghan translator.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to the "breathtaking heroism" of those who carried out the raid to rescue Stephen Farrell, kidnapped at the weekend.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman declined to comment on reports that the soldier who died was a special forces paratrooper. "We do not comment on special forces. All we can say is that it was a NATO operation," he said.
Brown said those involved in the dramatic airborne raid "knew the high risks they were running.
"That they undertook it in such circumstances showed breathtaking heroism," he said while voicing thanks to Afghan authorities and NATO allies for their support.
Brown gave the approval for the rescue mission to go ahead, according to a report on the website of The Times in London late Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.
Gunmen snatched Farrell, who has dual British-Irish nationality, and his interpreter Sultan Munadi, on Saturday while they were reporting on the aftermath of a NATO air strike on fuel tankers that killed scores of people.
The journalist was unhurt but Munadi -- a 34-year-old father of two who was working in Afghanistan on a break from university studies in Germany -- was killed in a hail of gunfire, the New York Times reported.
Farrell and Munadi were the second team from The New York Times to be kidnapped in Afghanistan in less than a year. Their abduction highlights the growing insecurity in the once relatively peaceful north of the country.
Brown stressed that Britain never gives in to kidnappers' demands.
"Hostage taking is never justified, and the UK does not make substantive concessions, including paying ransoms. But whenever British nationals are kidnapped, we and our allies will do everything in our power to free them.
"As last night once again demonstrated, our armed forces have the skill and courage to act. They are truly the finest among us," he added.

Thursday, September 10th 2009

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