Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Soldier deaths inquest: Road searched after bomb attack

Cpl William Savage, Fusilier Samuel Flint and Pte Robert Hetherington Image copyright Ministry of Defence
Image caption Cpl William Savage, Fusilier Samuel Flint and Pte Robert Hetherington were on routine patrol in a Mastiff vehicle

A bomb attack which killed three British soldiers in Afghanistan was followed by a large operation to check the road which had been targeted, an inquest has heard.

Corporal William Savage, 30, from Midlothian, Fusilier Samuel Flint, 21, and Private Robert Hetherington, 25, both from Edinburgh, died in the blast.

They were killed on Route 611 in the Nahr-e-Saraj district on 30 April 2013.

An inquest into the deaths is being held at Oxfordshire Coroners Court.

It heard that an improvised explosive device (IED) had been put in place using a tunnel and was triggered using a command wire from behind the 10ft wall of a nearby compound.

Metal road

Lt Col Jonathan Swift, who was leading a battle group which included the men's unit, B Company, 2nd Battalion, Scottish Regiment, told the inquest that tunnelling had not been an insurgent tactic in that area.

After the incident, there was a large operation to check Route 611, which involved 1,000 troops.

He said: "No other tunnels were found during the course of this operation.

"This was the first instance of a charge being dug beneath a metal road.

"Because of the size of the charge, this was the first occasion when a Mastiff was overmatched by an IED."

Lt Col Swift has confirmed there had been frequent and regular "hits" in the days before the attack on a surveillance system designed to counter the IED threat.

These hits show up activity, which could be digging, but did not need to be, and included the scene of the blast in its scope.

There was nothing abnormal in the hits and troops were not expecting to see evidence of tunnelling. Other forces had also been using the road.

Asked if there was a risk that people just did not "join up the dots", he said: "That's possible."

Asked if there should have been further searches, including of the compound, as a result of the surveillance "hits", he said: "I think the decision taken was in the bounds of reasonable decision making."

The inquest has heard that the Mastiff armoured vehicle the men were travelling in is designed to resist IED attacks.

There had been earlier damage to it.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites