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January 9, 2002
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Britain to send Gurkhas to Afghanistan

Britain has decided to send Gurkhas to Afghanistan as peacekeepers in the hope that they can bond with locals who are suspicious of Westerners.

A 120-strong company are expected to land in Kabul by the middle of next week, official sources said in London on Wednesday.

They will team up with paratroopers already sent on Sunday.

It is hoped that their language skills and ethnic origin will help them get on with Afghans. The fearless Nepalese fighters are also well acclimatised to high altitudes, which could prove vital if they were called to fight in mountainous Afghanistan.

Major Guy Lavender, of 2 Para, said: "We think the Gurkhas will be very useful in Afghanistan."

"Their language Nepali is quite similar to the Afghans' Dari. So we hope they will be able to pick it up quite quickly."

"They will also look a little more familiar to the local people, which will help us all in gaining their trust," he added.

The Gurkhas, wearing the Paras' trademark maroon berets, will lead street patrols.

The Royal Marines, who were sent to Afghanistan after exercises in Oman and have been away from home for six months, began to pull out of Kabul on Tuesday night.

PTI

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The Complete Coverage

The Terrorism Weblog: Latest Stories from Around the World

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