Army dog wins 'animal Victoria Cross' for Taliban counterattack
London: A UK special forces dog was on Friday awarded a medal equivalent of the country's highest military honour for his role in saving hundreds of troops during his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Mali, a Belgian Malinois, has been awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal the equivalent of the human Victoria Cross for his heroic actions in sniffing out Taliban booby traps during a highly sensitive military operation in 2012.
The eight-year-old dog was instrumental is assisting troops to clear militants from a Kabul tower block despite suffering serious shrapnel injuries.
He is credited with saving British and Afghan lives as he took part in the Special Boat Service (SBS) assault.
"Despite sustaining quite horrendous injuries, he absolutely stayed by his handler's side and forged forward with them to help them carry out their duty. It's that gallantry and devotion to duty that we are recognising," said Jan McLoughlin, director-general of the veterinary charity, People s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).
Mali was part of a mission aimed at ending a major siege by an armed suicide squad holed up in the tower block in Kabul and securing a key Taliban stronghold during the operation.
He stayed by the side of his military handler, who cannot be named, as he was sent through direct fire on two separate occasions to conduct searches for explosives.
He successfully indicated the presence of insurgents numerous times, giving the UK assault force vital seconds to engage the enemy in close quarter combat.
Mali was seriously injured by three grenade blasts, with the first two explosions causing injuries to his chest, front and rear legs.
A further blast detonated close to his face, causing the loss of his front tooth and damage to his right ear.