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G4S private army of Gurkhas wins medals for gallantry in Kabul

  • • Honour citation sheds light on security industry's role in 'War on Terror'.
  • • G4S Gurkhas deployed against environmental protesters in the UK.

Detail from G4S Gurkha Services marketing brochure and Queen’s Gallantry Medal

Four former British Army Gurkhas employed by G4S have become the first private security operatives to receive the Queen’s Gallantry Medal (QGM) for exemplary acts of bravery.

G4S soldiers-for-hire Deepak Kumar Thapa, Janga Bahadur Gurung, Jeetman Sharu Magar and Shayam Kumar Limbu received the honour for resisting an attack on the British Council compound in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in August 2011, according to the Civilian Gallantry List published yesterday.

The citation describes a “complex attack” on the compound, involving two explosive-laden suicide vehicles and “an assault by four heavily armed insurgents”.

On the night of 19 August 2011 the compound was guarded by eleven G4S operatives including four armed Gurkha guards, six unarmed Afghan National security staff and one British national security manager/bodyguard, according to the citation.

Three of the Afghan security guards were killed by small arms fire, three others were wounded by blast and small arms fire but survived, and three of the four Gurkha guards were wounded.

Gurkha Janga Gurung engaged the insurgents . . . firing all his ammunition during a furious fire fight. During the attack he fired some 8,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition. By his actions Janga Gurung helped suppress the insurgents and bought critical time that enabled staff to enter the safe house.  

Despite receiving a gunshot wound to the head, Shayam Limbu stayed in the guardhouse area and protected the wounded Afghan National staff until he was rescued”. 

The siege culminated in Afghan commandos assaulting the building and killing all the attackers who had not blown themselves up. The citation goes on: “It is beyond question that the actions of all the Gurkha guards greatly assisted in saving the lives of the British Council staff. They all remained at their posts, despite several of them being wounded. Their bravery and swift action bought critical time for others to find sanctuary.”

Another G4S employee, Hameed Choudhry, was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery (QCB) for his actions during the attack. G4S said that the QCB “equates to a Mention in Dispatches”.

G4S, the world's leading security company, and a major public services outsourcer in the UK, running children's homes, prisons and NHS services, says it has employed ex-Gurkhas within its Risk Services business for more than 20 years, “mainly working on British Government contracts overseas, in high threat environments”.

The company’s private army of ex-Gurkhas is also deployed against civilians in the UK.

In the G4S sales brochure, former Gurkhas are marketed (under the slogan “Security with military precision”) to corporations seeking protection from metal thieves and from people protesting against fracking, nuclear power, and coal-fired power stations.

The “enhanced security” on offer includes surveillance services.

The brochure quotes EDF Energy’s security manager as saying: “Across a range of operations G4S has been very impressive, innovative and highly professional.

Barrie Millett, head of business resilience at E-ON, said that G4S Gurkhas were “responsive and pro-active and they act swiftly to manage and resolve issues with minimal impact”.

In what appears to be a reference to E-ON’s Kingsnorth power station in Kent, G4S boasts that its Gurkhas “were called upon by one of our customers to protect their coal fired power station from over 2,000 protesters. During this deployment over 60 of our officers conducted anti-protest operations over a period of four days while the site was effectively locked down.”

 


 

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About the author

Clare Sambrook, novelist and journalist, founded and co-edits Shine a Light, an investigative project that publishes first at openDemocracy. Clare is a co-founder of End Child Detention Now. Winner Paul Foot Award and Bevins Prize for outstanding investigative journalism 2010. Orwell Prize nominee 2013 & 2015.


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