KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Protesters in southern Afghanistan on Sunday gathered following Prince Harry's claim in his new memoir that he killed 25 people he described as Taliban fighters while posted with British forces in the country.
Around 20 faculty and students demonstrated at a local university in Helmand, the province where British forces were largely concentrated during the NATO and U.S.-led coalition operations in Afghanistan.
“We condemn his (Prince Harry’s) action which is against all norms of humanity," one demonstrator said. Others carried posters showing Harry's portrait with a red ‘x' across it.
Sayed Ahmad Sayed, a teacher at the university, condemned Harry for his role in UK military operations in Afghanistan.
“The cruelties which have been committed by Prince Harry, his friends or by anyone else in Helmand or anywhere in Afghanistan is unacceptable, cruel. These acts will be remembered by history,” Sayed said at the protest.
NATO and U.S. troops withdrew in August, 2021 from the country after 20 years of warfare there and running air operations in support of the Western-backed Afghan government's fight against a Taliban insurgency. Their withdrawal set the stage for the Taliban's rapid return to power that month.
In his memoir, “Spare,” Harry says he killed more than two dozen Taliban militants while serving as an Apache helicopter copilot gunner in Afghanistan in 2012-2013. He writes that he feels neither satisfaction nor shame about his actions, and in the heat of battle regarded enemy combatants as pieces being removed from a chessboard, “Baddies eliminated before they could kill Goodies," the prince writes.
Harry's decision to put a number on those he killed, and the book's comparison of those to chess pieces, drew outrage from Taliban officials, and concern from British veterans.
“We ask the international community to put this person (Prince Harry) on trial, and we should get compensation for our losses,” said Mullah Abdullah, who lost four family members in what he described as a U.K. airstrike in 2011 that hit his family home in the Nahr-e-Saraj area of Helmand.
“We lost our house, life, and family members. We lost our livelihood and also our loved ones,” said Abdullah, while visiting the graves of the family members he lost in the strike.
The media director for the Taliban governor of Helmand, Mawlavi Mohammad Qasim, said Harry's claims in his memoirs “exposed the real face of the Western world."
“It is a clear indication of their cruel and horrific actions,” he said.