West Yorkshire ex-soldier died after suicide bomb blast in Afghanistan left him trapped
An experienced former British soldier died after a catastrophic suicide blast in Kabul left him trapped underneath an armoured vehicle, an inquest 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 heavily damaged after a Taliban suicide bomber detonated a car filled with explosives. Bradford Coroner’s court, West Yorkshir, heard the armoured vehicle carrying Mr Hampshire had been blown 45 metres down the road and trapped him under the vehicle after he was flung out of 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 instead “just an attack on any Western influence operating in Afghanistan”. Three people died in the explosion and 18 people were also injured in the attack which happened at 9:05am on May 17, 2015.
Speaking at the inquest today (Mon), 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 solider 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. Dr Hope said the former soldier would have died “within seconds and not minutes” and approximated “his death was rapid”.
She told Bradford Coroner’s Court, West Yorks., today (Mon): “My conclusion was of Mr Hampshire’s death as blast injuries caused by an explosion.” Even after the vehicle trapping Mr Hampshire was removed, despite best efforts he sadly was pronounced dead a short while later. Deputy senior police officer in Kabul for the operation Alistair Black told the court the ‘A’ route being used by Mr Hampshire’s convoy on the morning of his death was “safe in a terminology sense”.
However, he said close protection in Kabul had “increased dramatically” during rising tensions in the country. Mr Black said: “On the morning of the 17th there were no known threats on route Abby [Route A].” Mr Hampshire of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was engaged to wed his fiancee Claire Taylor at the time of his death.
Coroner David Urpeth will draw up conclusions into the death of Michael Hampshire during the seven day inquest – which continues.