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Prince Harry should stand trial over Spare claims of military killings in Afghanistan, Taliban say

Watch: Top takeaways from Prince Harry's ITV interview

The fallout over Prince Harry’s memoir Spare has continued to intensify in recent days, with the leaders of Afghanistan and militant group the Taliban calling for the duke to face an international court over comments he killed 25 fighters while on duty in Afghanistan.

Harry, whose interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby was broadcast on Sunday night, says in the book he did not think of the individuals killed as “people”, but rather “chess pieces” which had been taken off the board and “bad people” who had been “eliminated before they could kill good people”.

“My number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me,” he wrote.

The 38-year-old served in the army for 10 years and undertook two tours of Afghanistan, which fell to the Taliban in 2021 after UK and US forces pulled out of the country.

Much like other remarks from the book – from frostbitten penises to cocaine consumption and alleged altercations – the Duke of Sussex’s disclosure about his military service has sparked a considerable amount of condemnation.

Hameeedullah Hameedi, a Taliban official and member of Helmand’s provincial council, told Sky News: “If Harry considered himself a member of a civilised world, this is a shame for him to say that.

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“And it is an even bigger shame for him to talk about it proudly, like an illiterate person of a poor society with no knowledge and no education.

“We are not only demanding that he be prosecuted in the international court, but also demanding the international community punish him as soon as possible.”

However Anas Haqqani, a Taliban leader, tweeted: “I don’t expect that the [International Criminal Court] will summon you, or the human rights activists will condemn you, because they are deaf and blind for you. But hopefully these atrocities will be remembered in the history of humanity."

He also said western soldiers, military and political leaders were “defeated” in the “’game’ of white and black ‘square’”.

A demonstration was carried out at a local university in Helmand on Saturday, with protesters carrying posters emblazoned with a portrait of Harry with a red ‘x’ across it.

Elsewhere, Taliban commander Molavi Agha Gol branded the Duke of Sussex a “big mouth loser who has been trying to get attention”, while the spokesperson for the fundamentalist group’s foreign affairs ministry said the “western occupation of Afghanistan” is “an odious moment in human history”.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi continued: “Comments by Prince Harry [are] a microcosm of the trauma experienced by Afghans at the hands of occupation forces, who murdered innocents without any accountability.”

A little closer to home, friend of Prince Harry and former commando Ben McBean said the duke “need[s] to shut up”.

“Makes you wonder the people he’s hanging around with. If it was good people somebody by now would have told him to stop,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile retired British Army colonel Tim Collins told Forces News on Friday: “That’s not how you behave in the army; it’s not how we think.”

He later added: “Harry has now turned against the other family - the military, that once embraced him – having trashed his birth family.”

In the world of politics, backbench Tory MP and army reservist Tobias Ellwood said Harry’s remarks on the killings were “ill-advised” and expressed his worry that “this is going to have security implications”.

The chair of the Commons Defence Committee continued: “One of the rare occasions that I worked with Prince Harry was in the Invictus Games in Sydney and in Toronto and so forth. Incredible effort. This was his design; this was his creation.

“And now I’m concerned that something which has been so important to veterans to help rehabilitation will now suffer because there could be security implications of him participating in that.”

Spare is set to be released in the UK on Tuesday.

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