Brit military officials considering pulling out Prince Harry from Afghanistan

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Melbourne, Feb 29 : British military officials are considering plans to pull out Prince Harry from Afghanistan, after unwillingly confirming that he was there fighting Taliban forces.

The 23-year-old royal has been serving in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province as a Forward Air Controller since mid-December and has been personally involved in clashes with Taliban guerrillas, reports The Australian.

British officials had hoped to keep the prince's deployment secret until he had safely returned, but they released video of Harry serving in Helmand Province after the news leaked out in Australia and the US and on the internet.

Australian magazine New Idea reported Harry's deployment a month ago, but it was not until major American website Drudge Report carried out the news on Feb 28, that the embargo issue was lifted.

Defence officials confirmed that Harry, a lieutenant in the Blues and Royals, was still in Afghanistan, and praised the prince's enormous courage.

"His conduct on operations in Afghanistan has been exemplary. He has been fully involved in operations and has run the same risks as everyone else in his battle group," General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, said.

General Dannatt also added that he was "very disappointed" that the story had leaked out.

The prince, who is 10 weeks into a 14-week deployment, remained in Afghanistan on Feb 28, but had been moved for his own safety, British media reported. he Ministry of Defence said that no decision had yet been made on whether it was safe for him to remain on his tour of duty.

"The operational chain of command is now looking at a variety of options," a ministry spokesman said.

Other reports said that commanders were expected to activate their contingency plan to fly the prince out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible, amid fears the Taliban will step up attacks on British bases.

It has been reported that Harry killed up to 30 of the enemy on his frontline Afghanistan tour by directing no less than three air strikes, thus inviting Taliban fanatics to track him down.

The prince also traded fire with insurgents who attacked his outpost base, manning a heavy machine gun.

Sources say that Harry displayed enormous courage, and came under enemy rocket, mortar and machine gun fire almost every day on the Nato security mission.

They added that despite being a royal, Harry was given no special privileges and faced the same high risks as the troops around him.

In his role as a Forward Air Controller, Harry also brought down bombs on Taliban attackers.

ANI

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