Taliban fanatics were reportedly planning to kill Prince Harry while he was fighting in Afghanistan.

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Commander Mullah Abdul Karim claims he knew of the prince’s whereabouts – which had been a closely guarded secret since the prince was deployed last December until it was leaked last week – and his troops were hatching a plot to capture and murder him.

Speaking from the Helmand Province, where Harry was secretly fighting for 10 weeks, Karim said: “He is our special enemy. Our first option was to capture him as a prisoner. The second, to kill him.”

Karim – who said he was told in December or early January that “an important chicken” had joined British troops – insists fanatics had reported several sightings of Harry in their area on several occasions but his fighters never got close enough.

He added: “He may be a prince but he didn’t have a prince’s heart. He proved as cruel and brutal as the other British soldiers, bombing and shelling innocent Afghans and Taliban.”

Harry’s scheduled 14-week tour of duty ended abruptly last week after a US website revealed his whereabouts and he was forced to fly back to the UK.

Meanwhile, Harry’s hopes of returning to frontline duties were dashed after the head of the British Army said there was no prospect of him going anywhere for at least a year.

Harry – who arrived at Oxfordshire’s RAF Brize Norton on Saturday (01.03.08) – has declared he wants to go back to Afghanistan “very, very soon”.

However, General Sir Richard Dannatt said no young officer would be sent back so soon after a deployment. He added: “It is hypothetical for the next 12 to 18 months whether he would or wouldn’t deploy again.”