Former soldier was killed by Taliban suicide bomber in Afghanistan when blast threw him out of armoured vehicle as it …
- Michael Hampshire, 29, was working as a security contractor in Afghanistan
- The convoy he was travelling in was targeted by a Taliban suicide bomber
- Three people died in the explosion and 18 people injured in the attack in 2015
Former soldier Michael Hampshire was killed in the blast on May 17, 2015
An experienced former British soldier died after a catastrophic suicide blast in Kabul by an 'opportunistic bomber', an inquest has heard.
Michael Hampshire, 29, was working as a security contractor for HART International, a risk management company operating in the Afghanistan capital when the convoy he was travelling in was targeted.
The B6 land cruiser was in a two car convoy which was almost destroyed after a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a car filled with explosives.
Three people died in the explosion and 18 people were also injured in the attack which happened at 9.05am on May 17, 2015.
Mr Hampshire, from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, was engaged to wed his fiancee Claire Taylor at the time of his death.
Bradford Coroner's court heard the armoured vehicle carrying Mr Hampshire was blown some 45 metres down the road and he was trapped beneath it after being thrown out the window.
The force of the blast was so strong it sucked the window of the armoured car from the vehicle, the inquest heard.
Detective Chief Inspector Iain McLindon of Scotland Yard said the bomb blast was 'not a targeted attack' but 'an attack on any Western influence operating in Afghanistan'.
Mr Hampshire, from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, was engaged to wed his fiancee Claire Taylor at the time of his death
Speaking at the inquest today DCI McLindon told the court: 'Michael was a very experienced and good soldier and I suspect that is why HART [International] chose him to be of service to them.
'He worked in Kabul and Somalia and from the statement as a leader of a close security unit in Kabul he was the cream of the crop.'
Mr Hampshire - who had previously been a soldier between 2002 and 2013 - was tasked with picking up a high-profile target from the Baron Hotel in a mission to transport them to the Ministry of Interior.
The subject entered the vehicle at around 8.50am where they set off on their journey followed by German close security and an interpreter behind them in a different vehicle.
DCI McLindon said the investigation had been difficult following the murder of another security operative stationed in Kabul investigating the bombing.
The operative, named Simon Chase at the inquest, had been shot in a restaurant while investigating the perpetrators behind the bombing.
'This made things harder because Northern Island Coroner's Courts don't explore deaths outside their remit,' DCI McLindon added.
Pathologist expert Dr Kirsten Hope undertook the examination of Mr Hampshire's body on behalf of the Home Office.
The B6 land cruiser was in a two car convoy which was almost destroyed after a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a car filled with explosives
Dr Hope said the former soldier would have died 'within seconds and not minutes' and approximated 'his death was rapid'.
A police boss overseeing operations in Kabul at the time has labelled the incident an 'opportunistic attack'.
Alistair Black said he was not aware of any imminent attacks nor had any information to prevent the blast.
Mr Black, deputy senior police officer in Kabul, stated 'Route Abby' or 'Route A' was given to Mr Hampshire and his team because other routes in and out of the city had been blacklisted as 'too dangerous'.
It had been decided on the morning of the incident that the route was safe enough to use prior to the convoy beginning its journey to the Ministry of Interior.
It had been chosen as the designated route following intelligence sought from other international agencies and ground surveillance teams.
Mr Hampshire's father Martin Hampshire, who appears unrepresented at the inquest, asked Mr Black: 'So what could have been done for the incident to be avoided?'
Mr Black responded: 'What happened was a tragic incident.
It was an opportunistic attack on an international target.'
Adding: 'It was our job to protect people - it was not that we were there to target them.'
The court heard in his role as a Hart Close Protection Officer, Mr Hampshire would transport government officials, army command and high profile figures.
The inquest, which is due to last eight days, continues.