Military Cross for hero Gurkha who was shot and hit by a grenade… then took on Taliban gunmen armed with only his ceremonial Kukri

A hero Gurkha has won the Military Cross after single-handedly fighting off two armed Taliban attacking an Afghan patrol base… with just his ceremonial Kukri knife.

Rifleman Tuljung Gurung tackled the gun-wielding insurgents armed only with his razor-sharp traditional Nepalese blade and forced them to flee.

Incredibly, the soldier – now an acting Lance Corporal – battled them despite being dazed after a bullet smashed directly into his helmet and he was knocked down by shockwaves from an enemy hand grenade which he threw to safety when it landed next to him.

Now the modest 28-year-old has won the third highest gallantry award for his courage in Afghanistan.

Acting L/Cpl Gurung received the Military Cross for stopping the extremists from reaching sleeping British soldiers in the Helmand compound.

Top brass said his selfless bravery had prevented a ‘potentially catastrophic loss of life’.

He is among 117 servicemen and women who received awards in the operational honours list, published today.

Most of the honours go to troops who served with 4 Mechanized Brigade in Helmand between October last year and April.

Acting L/Cpl Gurung, who serves with the Royal Gurkha Rifles, was on duty at Patrol Base Sparta, in Nahr-e Seraj, at 4am on March 22 when he spotted two Afghans running towards his sangar, or watchtower.

When he challenged them to stop, the insurgents opened fire with an AK47 assault rifle.

One of the rounds struck him on the helmet, knocking him to the ground. Groggily getting to his feet, he saw a grenade bounce into the tower.

Fearing it would explode, the married Gurkha picked it up and hurled it away a split-second before it detonated, the force of the blast throwing him to the floor.

But as the dust and debris settled, Acting L/Cpl Gurung came face-to-face with one of the Taliban who was climbing into the 3 metre high sangar.

Lacking room to aim his rifle, the soldier drew his 18inch kukri and tenaciously took on the insurgent in hand-to-hand combat.

During the fight, the pair plunged to the ground outside the base. In a life-or-death struggle, Acting L/Cpl Gurung continued to lash out with the blade.

He said: ‘He was quite a bit bigger than me. I just hit him in the hand, body, I just started to hit him.

‘I just thought, “I don’t want to die. If I am alive I can save my colleagues”.

‘I thought, “Before he does something I have to do something”. I was like a madman.’

Faced with his ferocity, the Taliban turned and fled. Acting L/Cpl Gurung’s citation said he had displayed the ‘highest levels of gallantry and courage’.

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Council facing £150,000 bill after squatters trash ex-library

Squatters have trashed a former south London library, which is set to be turned into a cinema, leaving town hall chiefs with a huge bill to clean up the mess.

They have also disturbed asbestos at Nettlefold Hall, in West Norwood. The clear-up costs for Labour-run Lambeth Council are expected to top £150,000.

The library closed two years ago.  Squatters moved into the empty building earlier in the summer and were only evicted after a court order was obtained six weeks ago.

Library closures across London have been opposed by the Evening Standard’s Save Our Libraries campaign,  backed by leading authors including Will Self, Martina Cole and Benjamin Zephaniah.

Lambeth’s conservative group leader John Whelan said: “The principal concern is that all these grand plans for a cinema and cultural hub are retreating into the distance.

“It is a huge waste, there is a temporary library but it is very limited and the community is losing out. The library has been shut for two years. As the weeks, months and years pass by doubts over the project increase. My worry is the building will be demolished and turned into flats.”

City Screen Limited, which is planning a cinema and library for the site, has maintained it is still committed to the project. So far only the basement area of the building, which held burial records from neighbouring West Norwood Cemetery, has been cleared.

Lambeth Council has asked Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to change squatting laws to cover commercial premises following the damage at Nettlefold Hall.

Councillor Sally Prentice, member for culture and leisure,  said the cinema plans were still in place.

She added: “Properties like Nettlefold Hall are being trashed and the law prevents us from acting quickly enough to save the situation.

“If commercial squatting was illegal, Nettlefold Hall would have been cleared within 24 hours, avoiding the very frustrating delay to this development and the estimated clean-up bill in excess of £150,000.”