- Bomb exploded 200m from convoy
- ‘We were flung to the floor by the blast and then bundled off by officials’
- Reporter trained with Yorkshire solider killed in Afghanistan last week
A Yorkshire Post reporter has revealed how he had a near miss when a car bomb exploded 200m away from his convoy in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
North Yorkshire reporter Joe Shute, 27, travelled to the region to spend time with soldiers from the paper’s patch.
But his trip coincided with five soldiers from the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment being killed in an explosion while on patrol in the Kandahar province last week.
Shute was based with the 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment but trained in Yorkshire with 20-year-old Pte Anthony Frampton – one of the six British soldiers killed during the attack.
He spoke with Frampton during his pre-deployment preparation at the Stanford Training Area, Yorkshire, last December. ‘We spent the day together – we went on patrol for seven hours so there was plenty of time to talk,’Shute told Press Gazette.
‘It was a freezing day and we were huddled together under the trees, smoking and talking about all sorts.’He was left shaken by news of Frampton’s death: ‘It was sad to hear. He was a nice guy.
“He spoke of his pride at being a soldier. He said he could walk through Huddersfield, his home town, with his head held high. He said he was kind of worried about himself and his friends going out there but it was just something that they had to do.”
Shute also told Press Gazette about how he witnessed a suicide car bomb crash into a convoy of nearby cars while he was in Helmand province, injuring six civilians and killing the suicide bomber.
‘We were flung to the floor by the blast and then bundled off by officials,’he said. ‘It was very scary.’Reports later emerged the suicide bomber was directed to target official convoys – and that his was the only other one in the area.
When he returned to Yorkshire last week Shute said he was ‘ready to lie down in a dark room for a few days”. But asked if he would consider returning to the region, he replied: ‘It is very different to my day to day local government reporting but I would go back there.”
‘I had never seen poverty like that’
His trip also coincided with widespread protests triggered by copies of the Koran being burned at a US military base. ‘I was going on patrols during the Koran burnings which was tense,’he said.
‘Soldiers had to carry their guns around everywhere – even at breakfast over their cornflakes. It was fascinating seeing how the soldiers live out there in austere conditions.
‘Every soldier I spoke to out there was candid and openly said they were terrified.’
During the trip Shute undertook training and went on patrol to clear explosives set by the Taliban, walking through booby-trapped areas riddled with IEDs.
On his first patrol, he visited an Afghan graveyard where bodies were buried with rocks instead of underground.
‘The graveyard went on as far as the eye could see,’he said. ‘I have been travelling in Africa but I had never seen poverty like that. The only toys the children had were rocks.
‘Older kids threw rocks at us which was slightly scary as well – one of the soldiers had his jaw broken a couple of weeks ago in this way.”
Shute’s reports of Afghanistan and last week’s attacks were used by the Yorkshire Post and picked up widely in the national press.
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