Afghan warlord brands Britain's Prince Harry as "jackal"

LONDON Wed Jan 2, 2013 6:27pm IST

Former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks to a Reuters correspondent in Tehran Febuary 5, 2002. REUTERS/Caren Firouz/Files

Former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks to a Reuters correspondent in Tehran Febuary 5, 2002.

Credit: Reuters/Caren Firouz/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - An Afghan insurgent warlord branded Britain's Prince Harry on Wednesday as a shameless, drunken "jackal" out to kill innocent Afghans while on duty as an attack helicopter pilot for NATO forces in the country.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister who leads one of Afghanistan's main militant factions, told the Daily Telegraph in an interview that Queen Elizabeth's 28-year-old grandson was a relic of the colonial past.

"It seems that some British authorities still dream about the times of the 18th and 19th century and they want their ambassador to be treated like a viceroy and their prince to go out in uniform to hunt for human beings and play the Satanic role that they used to play in the past," Hekmatyar said in translated comments.

He said Britain had gained nothing by entering an "unjustified, useless but cruel conflict" to please its ally, the United States, speaking in a recorded video response to questions put by the paper.

"The British prince comes to Afghanistan to kill innocent Afghans while he is drunk. He wants to hunt down Mujahideen with his helicopter rockets without any shame.

"But he does not understand this simple fact that the hunting of Afghan lions and eagles is not that easy. Jackals cannot hunt lions," Hekmatyar added.

Britain's Ministry of Defence dismissed his remarks. "It is nonsense to suggest that any British pilot would be drunk in charge of their aircraft," a ministry spokesman said.

Hekmatyar made the recording in an undisclosed location, the Daily Telegraph said. He left Afghanistan in the mid-1990s and his whereabouts have been unclear since then.

The U.S. State Department lists Hekmatyar as a "terrorist" for supporting attacks by Islamist Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents, althought he became a hero to many Afghans while leading mujahideen fighters against the Soviet occupation of the Central Asian country in the 1980s.

His Hizb-i-Islami group, which means Islamic Party, shares some of the Afghan Taliban's anti-foreigner, anti-government aims, and seeks to oust international coalition forces.

The prince, a serving British Army helicopter pilot, has worked hard to distance himself from his youthful playboy image, undertaking charity work and formal royal visits.

But those efforts were undermined when he was photographed cavorting naked with a nude young woman at a Las Vegas hotel in August, prompting headlines around the world shortly before he returned for a four-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

After his deployment the Taliban said they would do all they could to kill or kidnap the prince. He was present but unharmed when Taliban insurgents attacked the Camp Bastion military base in Helmand province in September, killing two U.S. marines.

Britain is due to withdraw nearly all its 9,000 soldiers from Afghanistan when the NATO mission finishes in late 2014.

(Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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