Bomb proof: George Cross hero’s account of how he disarmed an entire Taliban minefield using only pliers


June 2, 2017

British soldiers had a nickname for Sangin. We called it ‘a town called Malice’, and with good reason.

Its maze of compounds, mud-baked walls and alleys channelling soldiers into killing zones carefully constructed by the Taliban made it a graveyard for British troops serving in Afghanistan. It was a place of pure evil.

I’m Staff Sergeant Kim Hughes, an Ammunition Technician by trade, but in Afghanistan I’m known as an ATO (Ammunition Technical Officer).

My bomb disposal team and I arrived here in 2009 when British troops were getting badly smashed. Choppers were coming under fire, and every day our boys were being killed or maimed as the Taliban routinely sneaked in under cover of darkness and laid bomb after bomb just yards from our base.

IEDs — improvised explosive devices — were hidden in walls and trees, in rubbish dumps, abandoned buildings, even in dead animals. The place was a minefield where every road, every street, every step had to be cleared.

Otherwise . . . well, we all knew the consequences. A large device, say 20 kilos or more, will blow you into so many pieces that a mop will be needed to deal with what’s left. But at least that’s quick and painless. If you’re unlucky, the blast will cut you in half, take away your legs and leave you disembowelled. You might survive, but not for long.

Taliban bombs weren’t sophisticated — even children could make them. Two pieces of wood, hacksaw blades, some wire, a Christmas tree light and a few kilos of homemade explosives is all that it took.

The quality was c**p — but there were an estimated 10,000 of them buried in the ground throughout Helmand Province which were taking a terrible toll in limbs and lives.

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Source: Daily Mail