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British minister says he was wrong on Afghan veterans taking their own lives

Reuters/London
Filed on September 6, 2021

(Reuters file)

A spokesman for Britain's defence ministry denied that veterans had taken their own lives due to the withdrawal.


A British junior defence minister said on Monday that he was wrong when he said that some former British soldiers had taken their own lives due to anger over the US-led withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"Actually the thing I was referring to was inaccurate," James Heappey, a junior defence minister, told BBC TV. "We're looking very, very carefully at whether or not it is true that someone has taken their life in the last few days."

Heappey earlier told Sky News that some British military veterans from the Afghan war had taken their own lives because they were so devastated by the chaotic withdrawal of US-led forces from the country and the victory of the Taliban.

A spokesman for Britain's defence ministry denied that veterans had taken their own lives due to the withdrawal.

Earlier, Heappey had said that the humiliation of the lightning Taliban takeover in Afghanistan after a 20-year war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and at least a trillion dollars has dismayed veterans of the war.

Britain lost 457 armed forces personnel in Afghanistan, or 13 percent of the international military coalition's 3,500 fatalities since 2001.

"I know, unfortunately, there have been soldiers who served in Afghanistan, indeed a soldier who served on my last tour in Afghanistan, who have taken their own lives in the last week or so because of the feelings they have had over what's happening in Afghanistan," said James Heappey, a junior defence minister.

Heappey, who reached the rank of major before entering politics, said he was hearing the Taliban was now in control of the whole of Afghanistan but that the situation in Panjshir did not change the big picture.

Britain looking carefully at suicides among war veterans

Britain is investigating whether or not some veterans from the Afghan war have taken their own lives because they are so devastated by the chaotic withdrawal of US-led forces from the country Britain's armed forces minister said on Monday.

Heappey rowed back from his comment, telling the BBC that his remark had been inaccurate.

"We're looking very, very carefully at whether or not it is true that someone has taken their life in the last few days," he told BBC TV.

The defence ministry said Heappey had misspoken and that it had no confirmed suicide cases among British Afghan veterans due to the withdrawal.

Heappey, who reached the rank of major before entering politics, said he was hearing the Taliban was now in control of the whole of Afghanistan but that the situation in Panjshir did not change the big picture.





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