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UK begins inquiry into ‘unlawful killings’ in Afghanistan


An independent team led by a senior judge will investigate whether British troops carried out extrajudicial killings of Afghan civilians between 2010 and 2013.

The United Kingdom has officially launched an independent investigation into allegations that British forces carried out dozens of extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2013.

The inquiry, first announced in December, will also examine whether the British military has adequately investigated allegations of unlawful killings of civilians by British troops.

The British government ordered the investigation after lawyers took legal action on behalf of the families of eight Afghans allegedly killed by British special forces during night raids.

“It is clearly important that anyone who has broken the law be referred to the relevant authorities for investigation,” the lead judge of the investigation, Charles Haddon-Cave, said on Wednesday.

“Likewise, those who have done nothing wrong should rightly allow the cloud of suspicion to be lifted from them,” he said. “This is critical, both for the reputation of the armed forces and the country.”

The independent inquiry, ordered by Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, will also look into whether the deaths were part of a wider pattern of extrajudicial killings by British forces in Afghanistan.

The victims’ families welcomed the investigation last year.

“We hope that those responsible will one day be held accountable,” a member of the Noorzai family, one of the families involved in the case, said at the time.

“More than 10 years ago I lost two of my brothers, my young brother-in-law and a childhood friend, all boys with a life ahead of them,” the relative said. “I was handcuffed, beaten and interrogated by British soldiers outside our family home.

“My relatives and friend were each shot in the head while drinking tea.”

A member of the Saifullah family added that they were “extremely happy that there are people who appreciate the loss of my family’s life, of Afghans, enough to investigate.”

Tessa Gregory, a partner at the law firm Leigh Day, said on Wednesday that her clients look forward to helping the investigative team “as they try to establish the truth, which has been hidden for too long.”

“Through years of secrecy and cover-ups, our clients have fought tirelessly for justice for the deaths of their loved ones, and they hope that a clear light will now be shed on the practices and command of British special forces in Afghanistan,” she said. .

The law firm said Ministry of Defense documents showed officers had widespread knowledge of unlawful killings by British special forces in Afghanistan, but did not report the information to military police.

Separately, a BBC investigation last year alleged that a Special Air Service (SAS) unit may have killed dozens of people, including unarmed civilians, in Helmand province between 2010 and 2011 during “kill or capture” attacks against Taliban commanders. to detain and disrupt bombing. create networks.

The military chain of command concealed concerns about the unit, the BBC reported.

Unarmed Afghan men were routinely shot dead “in cold blood” by SAS forces during night raids, and weapons were planted on them to justify the crimes, the broadcaster reported after its own four-year investigation.

At the time, defense officials dismissed the BBC report as incorrect, saying investigators had already looked into the alleged misconduct and found insufficient evidence to prosecute.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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