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Afghanistan: Sniper trained by British special forces 'shot dead by Taliban' a day after requesting help

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An Afghan sniper trained by British special forces sent a message for help to a colleague in the UK the day before he was allegedly shot dead by the Taliban, Sky News has learnt.

Rafi Hottak, a former Afghan interpreter who worked with the British unit that set up and trained Afghanistan's elite Commando Force 333 (CF333), said he received the voice message on Sunday.

He told Sky News the sniper had said: "I have already sent you my documents. Let me know if you need anything else. Make sure I am on your list. Thank you."

Image: A pair of Taliban fighters with weapons

Mr Hottak has compiled a list of some 400 names of Afghan special forces members, largely from the 333 group, who are still stranded in Afghanistan and fear for their life.

He submitted the list to the UK government on Monday night, urging ministers to rescue the personnel and their families - though he said any action will come too late for the sniper.

"He was shot because he was part of 333," Mr Hottak said.

The sniper, a sergeant, 28, was married with three children. Sky News is not revealing his name for security reasons.

He had been in hiding at a relative's house, but had stepped out to visit a nearby shop.

That was where the Taliban found him on Monday afternoon, according to Mr Hattock, who had spoken to people in Kabul with knowledge of the attack.

Mr Hottak said he was shot four times.

Image: People hold a protest march against the Taliban's decision to force them to leave their homes in Kandahar, Afghanistan

A second source, with knowledge of the incident, claimed: "The Taliban have started a programme of eliminating Special Forces-trained guys. This is why we must continue to pressure the UK government to negotiate the evacuation of our comrades from Afghanistan."

As part of this effort, Mr Hottak had already decided to use his contacts to gather the names of all the members of CF333 stuck in Afghanistan.

That was why, he said, the sergeant had reached out to him.

Mr Hottak said he sent a first audio message to him on 29 August.

It said: "Rafi brother, I am one of the 333s. I am sure you remember me. When we call someone brother, we stay brothers until death takes us apart. I hope you are doing well, and your family is fine."

Mr Hottak said that the members of CF333, which was set up, trained and supported by the Special Air Service and the Special Boat Service, had been at the sharp end of the fight against the Taliban - when the Taliban was the enemy.

Its members also went after targets from extremist groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda - operations that helped keep the streets of the UK safe, as well as Afghan streets.

"These individuals and their families accepted the risk and danger and did not leave you alone in that war," Mr Hottak wrote in a cover letter with the list that he sent to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

"But today the entire country is under the control of the very terrorist group they have fought with. With the Taliban in power, they will be hunted down with many killed and tortured," the letter - which has been seen by Sky News - said.

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Riding around Kabul with the Taliban

Mr Hottak said the death of the sergeant demonstrates that the threat is real and immediate.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said the department was looking into reports of the killing.

"UK Armed Forces were able to evacuate over 15,000 people from Kabul during Operation Pitting under extremely challenging circumstances," the spokesperson said.

"Our commitment to Afghanistan and those who supported our mission there endure. Regrettably, we were not able to evacuate everyone in the limited time we had available. We will continue to work with international partners to ensure they have safe passage out of Afghanistan."

Image: Members of the British Armed Forces departing a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton last month

But Mr Hottak, who worked as an interpreter for British special forces before fleeing to the UK a decade ago because of death threats from the Taliban, said more must be done to help those whose lives are in peril.

"Now is the time for the UK government to do the right thing, to protect and save all those who were our close friends and allies," he wrote in his letter to ministers.

"It is a moral obligation of the UK government to save them and evacuate them."

Mr Hottak compiled the list after putting out a request across social media sites and WhatsApp groups for anyone who worked for or with British forces to contact him.

As well as the names of around 400 members, largely of CF333, his list also includes the names of almost 300 former interpreters and other locally employed staff who worked for British troops and diplomats in Afghanistan.

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