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Drudge breaks blackout about Harry's Afghan war

LONDON - The Drudge Report has broken the media blackout imposed by the Ministry of Defence about Prince Harry's secret deployment in Afghanistan, where the third-in-line to the throne has been in frontline action for the last two months fighting the Taliban.

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The story, which has made the front cover of every UK national newspaper today except The Independent, was subject to a strict media blackout between the MoD and the UK press, but the news was eventually broken by US blogger the Drudge Report yesterday.

The website has been condemned by the MoD and senior British Army officials, who are concerned Prince Harry will become a target for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's notorious Helmand Province, while additionally jeopardising the safety of his colleagues.

According to reports this morning there are now plans afoot to extract the prince from Afghanistan, where he has been serving alongside Gurkhas and acting as a forward air controller directing fighter bomber strikes against Taliban positions.

According to reports, the UK press was contacted by the MoD last July about imposing a media blackout on Prince Harry's deployment in Afghanistan. The ban was observed by all major UK news and broadcast institutions, including Associated Press, but the MoD was told yesterday afternoon a foreign news source would make the details public.

The Drudge Report, which gained notoriety in the late 1990s for breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal, forced the MoD to release a statement confirming Prince Harry had been in frontline action in Helmand Province for the last two months.

It is believed the Drudge Report found out about Prince Harry's deployment from a January article that appeared in Australian women's magazine, New Idea.

Meanwhile, German tabloid newspaper, Bild, has denied it published a story about Prince Harry's whereabouts.

Sir General Dannatt, head of the British Army, said: "I am very disappointed that foreign websites have decided to run this story without consulting us.

"This is in stark contrast to the highly responsible attitude that the whole of the UK print and broadcast media, along with a small number of overseas outlets, who have entered into an understanding with us over the coverage of Prince Harry on operations."

However, that responsible attitude was attacked by 'Channel 4 News' presenter Jon Snow, who railed against the news blackout and went on to thank Drudge for breaking the story.

Prince Harry, who retrained as a forward air controller in order to fight in Afghanistan, was told by the Queen in December that he was to be sent to war. His continued involvement in Afghanistan is now under threat after the details of his deployment were made public.

Nearly every major UK daily newspaper has led with front-page stories today followed by spreads inside about the leaked news.

The Daily Star's headline was "When Harry met Tali" not wanting to miss the chance of a pun.

The Sun chose "One of our boys", while the Daily Mirror went with "My war". In the mid-market sector, the Daily Express led with "Harry the secret hero" and rival the Daily Mail had "Harry at war".

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