A senior British Army officer and six other military personnel survived an attack when a tethered donkey laden with explosives was detonated as their armored vehicle passed in southern Afghanistan.
The huge explosion showered the soldier standing on “top cover” out of the Mastiff’s turret with donkey entrails and blood, and the sight was so gruesome that the rest of those in the vehicle thought he had been mortally wounded in the blast, south of Garmsir in southern Helmand province.
”I’m all right, I’m all right,” he shouted, according to one of the officers at the incident who spoke to The Times, giving the first account of the incident.
”We’d spotted the donkey tethered to a tree as we were on our way down south to monitor an operation that had been going on that day, but thought nothing of it. There are donkeys around everywhere,” the officer said.
Nothing happened when they first passed, but as the patrol returned to the British battle group headquarters at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Delhi, explosives hidden in buckets slung from the donkey’s saddle were detonated.
“I was asleep because you can feel quite nauseous travelling in a Mastiff and was woken by the explosion,” the officer said. “When I saw the top cover guy covered in blood, I tried to get to him with emergency medical kit.
“He said he was all right but I told him he had been badly injured. When we realized what had happened it wasn’t long before the first donkey jokes started to come out — ‘drop the dead donkey’ was one, and ‘pain in the ass’ another.”
The explosion damaged three of the wheels of the Mastiff and caused severe hearing problems for the Territorial Army soldier riding aloft. The stench of donkey remains lingered for weeks inside the vehicle.
”We were really lucky, especially the top cover TA soldier. The explosion seemed to go upwards and over the top but there were nails packed into the explosives, so it was a miracle there were no injuries. We reckon the two buckets could hold about 20 kilos of explosives,” the officer said.
Troops in Afghanistan have been attacked by a boy with a wheelbarrow full of explosives and a bicycle with a bomb attached, but the explosion south of Garmsir in southern Helmand province is thought to be the first using tethered livestock.