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UK ministry blames three military units for Afghan civilian casualties

By Samyuktha

London, Oct. 27 (ANI): The conduct of three British military units in Afghanistan has come under serious question after the Ministry of Defence released unprecedented details of incidents in which troops attacked Afghan civilians.

The disclosure, in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act made by the Guardian, reveals that of the casualties caused by British forces, two-thirds involved troops from the three units, triggering calls for an inquiry into their behaviour.

Releasing information about 21 incidents, the ministry revealed that the Coldstream Guards shot four civilians in Kabul over a period of three weeks; the Royal Marine commandos killed or wounded civilians eight times in six months; and the third unit, the Rifles, were involved in three incidents last year.

Among the casualties were children, and on one occasion a man with mental health problems.

Details of the attacks were not released at the time, but they were among thousands of incidents mentioned in US army logs posted by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks in the summer.

Today's release came after the Guardian pressed for more details of those cases.

A ministry spokesman said: "We deeply regret all civilian casualties. Protecting the Afghan civilian population is a cornerstone of ISAF's mission, and all British troops undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement."

"This contrasts directly with the attitude of the insurgents, whose indiscriminate use of suicide bombs, roadside explosive devices and human shields cause the majority of civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan," the statement added.

"We will continue our efforts to prevent insurgents harming civilians and to develop the capacity of Afghan security forces to protect the population," it said. (ANI)

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