Belfast Telegraph

Bishop highlights Afghan war cost

Political leaders need to reflect carefully on the growing cost of war in Afghanistan, a bishop has said at a soldier's funeral.

Lieutenant Neal Turkington, 26, was serving with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand province, when he was killed by a renegade Afghan soldier last month.

Colleagues, friends and family of Lt Turkington gathered at St Mark's Church of Ireland in Portadown, Co Armagh.

A total of 328 military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan and Bishop David Chillingworth said it had been a real sacrifice of young men and women.

"He became the soldier who committed himself in the service of his country and in the cause of freedom and peace - the trusted comrade who supported and inspired others," he said.

"We and our political leaders should reflect very carefully on all of this - on the cost and the sacrifice of young men and women who serve on our behalf - as we strive to build peace in Afghanistan and across the world."

Among those attending the church today were Major Andrew Todd, officer commanding rear party 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles; Colonel Gyanendra Rayamajhi, military attache from the embassy of Nepal in London; senior Gurkha representative Sean Crane; and Colonel of the Brigade of Gurkhas Major David Robinson.

The coffin was carried into the church by a group of his colleagues. It had his cap and a belt and Gurkha knife on top.

St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane Bishop Chillingworth was a rector in Portadown and knew the Turkington family well.

"I can see in the determination and the resolution of the soldier the child and the teenager I knew. I listen again to the tributes - relentless and steadfast in his pursuit of those causes he believed in with his passion for making a difference," he said.

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