Taliban leaders criticized Prince Harry on Friday after the royal wrote in his new memoir Spare that he killed 25 fighters during his second tour of Afghanistan.
The Duke of Sussex, who served in the British Army first as a forward air controller then as a helicopter pilot, wrote in the memoir that the 25 Taliban fighters were “chess pieces removed from the board.”
Harry, 38, wrote that he was neither proud nor ashamed of the deaths, The Telegraph reported after receiving an advance copy of the book set for release next week.
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“When I found myself plunged in the heat and confusion of combat I didn’t think of those 25 as people,” Harry wrote, as per Reuters.
Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban aide, responded to Harry’s claims on Twitter.
“Mr. Harry! The ones you killed were not chess pieces, they were humans; they had families who were waiting for their return,” he wrote. “Among the killers of Afghans, not many have your decency to reveal their conscience and confess to their war crimes.”
Haqqani said he did not expect the International Criminal Court (ICC) to condemn Harry “because they are deaf and blind for you.”
“But hopefully these atrocities will be remembered in the history of humanity,” he concluded.
Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesperson for the Taliban-led Afghan foreign affairs ministry, also criticized Harry’s comments.
“The western occupation of Afghanistan is truly an odious moment in human history and comments by Prince Harry is a microcosm of the trauma experienced by Afghans at the hands of occupation forces who murdered innocents without any accountability,” he said.
The Duke served in Afghanistan twice, first from 2007-2008, and again when he flew an attack helicopter from 2012-2013.
The Telegraph reported that this is the first time the prince has discussed his kill count during military service, which “is likely to increase concern about his personal safety.”
Britain’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment publicly, as reported by Reuters. Harry and his representatives have also not commented publicly.
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Some former members of the British military, however, have spoken out about what Harry chose to divulge through his writing.
Colonel Richard Kemp, a former Army commander in Afghanistan, told the BBC that Harry’s disclosures about his service in Afghanistan were “misleading”
“I think he’s wrong when he says in his book that insurgents were seen just as being virtually unhuman – subhuman perhaps – just as chess pieces to be knocked over,” Kemp said. “That’s not the case at all. And it’s not the way the British Army trains people as he claims.”
Kemp continued: “I think that sort of comment that doesn’t reflect reality, is misleading and potentially valuable to those people who wish the British forces and British government harm, so I think it was an error of judgement.”
And former Royal Marine Ben McBean, who ABC reports lost two limbs in Afghanistan and shared an RAF flight out of the war zone with the prince, tweeted that Harry needs to “shut up.”
McBean followed up with a tweet expressing his disappointment that the prince has shared so much personal information about his family affairs.
Harry’s highly personal book Spare will be released on Jan. 10. It discloses the depth of the rift between the prince and his brother William, the heir to the throne, and other revelations such as drug-taking and how he lost his virginity.
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Spokespeople for King Charles and Prince William have, so far, declined to comment on the details coming out of Harry’s memoir.
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Harry will appear on both ITV in Britain and CBS News’ 60 Minutes on Jan. 8 to discuss Spare and its apparent revelations about the Royal Family.
In a preview clip for the ITV interview, shared earlier this week, Harry says he hopes he can one day repair his relationships with his brother and father, King Charles III.
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“I would like to get my father back; I would like to have my brother back,” Harry tells new anchor and royal correspondent Tom Bradby, who he’s known for about 20 years.
Harry added that the relationship with his notoriously tight-lipped family “never needed to be this way,” but that they have “shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile.”
— with files from Motorcycle accident toronto today’ Michelle Butterfield and Reuters
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