[h=1] Afghanistan: Ruthless Taliban thugs execute British soldier [/h] by Martin Fricker, Daily Mirror 5/07/2011 Decrease font size Increase font size RUTHLESS Taliban thugs last night claimed they captured and murdered a British soldier during a firefight with allied troops. Commanders bragged about the cowardly *execution in a chilling statement delivered after the young servicemans body was found a mile from his base yesterday. It is the first time a British soldier has been kidnapped in the 10 years of operation in Afghanistan. Spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said: The soldier was captured yesterday during a firefight. When the fighting got more intense we couldnt keep him so we had to kill him. Advertisement >> But western military chiefs insisted there had been no fighting in the area where the soldier, from the 4 Scots regiment, went missing and the Taliban are well-known for *exaggerating their battlefield exploits. And confusion reigned as a senior Afghan general claimed the soldier was kidnapped after going for an early morning swim with two Afghan soldiers when he finished sentry duty. There were even *allegations the local troops handed him over to a death squad which British commanders are checking. An unnamed witness claimed the handover took place under the cover of darkness. There were fears the Taliban had carried out the snatch after being tipped off that David Cameron was making a secret visit to visit troops in Helmand. The soldier had been shot in the head after disappearing from *Checkpoint Salaang in Nahr-e Saraj district. Taskforce spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tim Purbrick said: He had suffered gunshot wounds. His exact cause of death is still to be *established and the *circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death are under investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. The soldiers next of kin have been informed. But confusion still last night surrounded the exact circumstances of the kidnap and why the serviceman was outside his safe area. Afghan army commander General Sayed Malook said he had been spotted heading for Kopak village for a swim with the two Afghans. He added: After a while, they noticed the British soldier was missing. When our two soldiers came out of the water, they couldnt see him. British and US forces immediately launched a massive air and land manhunt across the barren area. All other military operations had to be cancelled as *helicopters and other aircraft were diverted to the region. The rescue bid had a knock-on affect for Mr Cameron. Military chiefs were forced to make last-minute changes to the PMs plans, including cancelling his flight to Lashkar Gah. As Mr Cameron arrived at the capital Kabul, all of Natos *available air support were deployed to hunt for the missing soldier, whose body was found at 7pm local time. But Mr Cameron told officers: Dont worry about taking me around, throw everything you have got at trying to pick up this young man. The PM flew to meet UK forces before announcing fresh cuts in their numbers tomorrow. He is expected to tell MPs that the situation is safe enough to pull out hundreds more soldiers next year on top of 450 coming home this summer. But suggestions the ANA were involved in yesterdays execution will fuel fears over the PMs 2015 deadline for handing them control of the country. And attacks have been intensifying around Lashkar Gah since the middle of May when insurgents launched multiple assaults on Afghan checkpoints. But Mr Cameron insisted he will press ahead with his troop cuts.