3 British units 'under scrutiny'

2010-10-27 10:45

London - Three British military units in Afghanistan face questions about their conduct after details of their involvement in attacks on Afghan civilians emerged, a report said on Wednesday.

Of casualties caused by British forces, two-thirds involved troops from the three units, reported Britain's Guardian newspaper, which obtained the information from the government through freedom of information legislation.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) released information about 21 incidents in response to the paper's demands.

The information revealed that the Cold Stream Guards shot four civilians in Kabul over four weeks, while the Royal Marine commandos killed or wounded civilians eight times in six months.

And a third unit, the Rifles, were involved in three incidents last year.

Children were among the casualties and a man with mental health problems was attacked on one occasion, the information showed.

The attacks were among incidents mentioned in tens of thousands of classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan, which were published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks in July.

Exact details of the attacks were not released at the time, said the Guardian.

Defence officials insisted protecting Afghan civilians remained a priority.

"We deeply regret all civilian casualties," said a MoD spokesman.

"Protecting the Afghan civilian population is a cornerstone of [the NATO-led force] ISAF's mission, and all British troops undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement."