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Inquest into Death of Penicuik Soldier Begins

An inquest has heard today of Captain Walter Barrie’s almost instantaneous death after a “green-on-blue” attack late last year.

On the 11 November last year, the 1Scot soldier was playing a football match with ANA (Afghan National Army) soldiers when he was viscously gunned down by a rogue ANA soldier. Now ten months on from Remembrance Day, an inquest has begun at Oxford Cornoner’s Court into his death in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province.

The court has been told of how Captain Barrie died ‘extremely rapidly’ from a gunshot wound to the chest after the uniformed ANA soldier approached the football pitch and open fired in his direction. The rogue soldier, named ‘S’ for the purpose of the court, held an M16 rifle at his hip as he fired nine rounds, one of which hit Cpt. Barrie at close range, leading to what has been described as “extremely rapid loss of consciousness and death” by consultant forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt. After firing on the pitch, the ANA soldier proceeded towards a welfare tent for British troops, where he continued to fire. Shortly after, the attack was stopped as the soldier was shot in the thigh, shoulder and head before being detained by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) servicemen.

The hearing was then told of how British troops had been warned of an insider attack after a similar attack on the previous day in Western Afghanistan. The warning came as sixty percent of attacks are replicated within seventy-two hours of the first.

Now named as Mohammad Ashraf, Captain Walter Barrie’s killer was in turn killed after his attack on the british serviceman. The brother of Mr Ashraf had also been responsible for an attack on Spanish troops in the days before Cpt. Barrie’s death. On the day of Mohammed Ashraf’s attack he spoke of his concerns for his brother’s welfare.

Captain Walter Barrie was 41 years old and had served in the army for 25 years, including tours in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. Before his death he was tasked with the ANA integration process for the departure of British soldiers in 2015. His widower spoke of how her husband was “a doting and amazing father and a fantastic husband”  who was “much loved”.

The Captain’s killer was described as bearded and of slim build and in his early twentie’s.

The “Guardian Angel” of the base, Private Ryan Houston, spoke of how “a burst of fire” alerted him to the attack. He describes seeing Captain Walter Barrie after he was shot:

[He] was not moving and appeared motionless. I think I shouted ‘man down’.

Medics were able to reach Cpt. Barrie after a smoke grenade was thrown onto the pitch to conceal his body from the gunmen. Col Sgt Parker then told the inquest of how he returned fire with the rogue ANA soldier, who then turned and ran off. He later approached Mr Ashraf after he had been shot in the head, saying that:

He was alive, he was making gasping sounds.

Before Captain Walter Barrie’s death the British and Afghan soldiers would regularly play football with each other. Now, the inquest has heard that two extra “Guardian Angels” have been employed to further secure the base.

[Image © MOD – Captain Walter Barrie and his son]