UK

UK troops in Afghanistan 'friendly-fire' 19 times

A British soldier in Afghanistan
Image caption No UK personnel were reportedly killed or seriously injured during the friendly-fire incidents.

British troops were accidentally fired upon by Afghan forces in Helmand at least 19 times over three-and-a-half years, military incident logs reveal.

Four of the so-called friendly-fire incidents resulted in casualties, although none fatal, it was disclosed after a Freedom of Information request.

Between January 2008 and June 2009, Afghan personnel came under friendly-fire by UK troops at least 10 times.

Also, 21 Afghan interpreters for UK forces have been killed since 2006.

British forces mistakenly firing at Afghan soldiers, police and security service officials, resulted in seven deaths.

Incidents investigated

The most serious incident, in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand in October 2008, saw three Afghan National Police officers killed and one seriously injured when British troops opened fire on them.

None of the extracts from official files, released by the Ministry of Defence, record any UK personnel being killed or seriously injured during the friendly-fire incidents.

These details were released by the military's Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) based at Northwood in Middlesex, after the FoI request by the Press Association.

PJHQ stressed that the information released was incomplete, saying: "It includes only those events which were raised by the UK task force as significant incidents and categorised correctly.

"It is entirely possible that the detail reported may subsequently have been subject to change or clarification, or that additional incidents will have occurred which have not been captured here."

A Ministry of Defence said: "Any friendly-fire incident is one too many and thankfully such events are isolated and extremely rare - particularly as the vast majority of UK and Afghan forces operate alongside each other on a daily basis and in many cases live and work together.

"When such an incident is suspected to have taken place it is thoroughly investigated by commanders on the ground."

Interpreter deaths

Meanwhile, as the result of another FoI request, it has been revealed that three Afghan interpreters have died and 19 been wounded in the course of their duties for British forces this year.

British forces in Afghanistan employed 650 local interpreters in mid-July, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

A spokesman added: "The death of any individual working in the service of the country is a matter of deep regret and we are grateful to those individuals and their families for their sacrifice.

"In the event of the death of an interpreter, a payment is made to their next-of-kin in addition to any outstanding wages and annual leave payment, which is also paid."

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