London: British Prime Minister David Cameron dodged a Taliban death plot after intelligence officers uncovered plans to assassinate him by shooting down his helicopter.
Cameron’s first trip to Afghanistan as Prime Minister was thrown into disarray last night as a visit to a forward base was aborted to thwart an insurgent bid to shoot down his helicopter, media reported.
Military spies intercepted two Taliban phone calls in quick succession near to the Shahzad patrol base that Cameron was due to visit.
The first featured a discussion about plans to shoot down a helicopter – using shoulder launched missiles.
Quoting British military sources, the Daily Mail said that such calls are a regular occurrence in lawless Helmand province. But military commanders pulled the plug when they overheard a second Taliban call discussing the presence of a VIP in the area.
Cameron was in the air in a Chinook transport helicopter when the decision was taken by the commander on the ground, Brigadier Richard Felton, to abort the mission.
The Prime minister was less than 10 minutes flying time from the area where the Taliban forces were apparently lying in wait.
The Prime Minister’s helicopter was diverted to the nearby British brigade headquarters in the centre of the town of Lashkar Gah, where he first learned of the threats to his life.
Earlier in the day, Cameron signalled a ‘faster’ withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan on Thursday admitting that the public will not tolerate them staying ‘a day longer than is necessary’.
Cameron also announced GBP 67 million of new funding to counter the Taliban’s improvised explosive devices that have driven the British death toll to 294.