Afghan civilians killed in British-ordered air strike

Defence sources concede that there is 'high possibility' British aircraft were involved in the deaths of four civilians in an ambush the southern province of Helmand

Four civilians died in an air strike ordered by British troops after they were ambushed in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said last night. It was not immediately clear whether RAF planes or those from other Nato countries carried out the attack, but defence sources said there was a "high possibility" British aircraft had been involved.

Two women and two children were killed in the strike, which was called in after Taliban fighters attacked British troops operating in the southern province of Helmand, the MoD said. The troops had been caught up in a firefight after being ambushed. Air support was called in and directed at the area where the Taliban appeared to have been operating. One other civilian injured in the attack was evacuated to the British field hospital at Camp Bastion.

The MoD said in a statement: "We deeply regret that this incident happened and do everything we can to mitigate this happening. This incident is currently under investigation and it would be inappropriate for us to comment."

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has in the past expressed anger at the number of civilians killed by air strikes. Nato said in a statement that its rules of engagement "in accordance with the law of armed conflict are designed to minimise the risk of civilian casualties". It added that it "never knowingly targets civilians".

A total of 1,977 civilians died as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan last year, including nearly 240 killed in air strikes by foreign troops, according to the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, a body that monitors security for non-governmental organisations.

Contributor

Richard Norton-Taylor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Afghan civilians reported killed in Helmand air strike
Claims of 12 children among dead after attack ordered when US marines reportedly came under fire while on patrol

Jason Burke in Kabul

29, May, 2011 @5:28 PM

British soldier killed on Afghan mission
· Nato troops attacked in lawless Helmand area
· Army chief defends UK role as 'complementary'

Vikram Dodd and Richard Norton-Taylor

06, Aug, 2006 @11:07 PM

British soldier killed in Afghan firefight
A British soldier was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday afternoon when his patrol base near the southern town of Sangin came under attack from small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades.

Audrey Gillan

13, Aug, 2007 @10:49 PM

Article image
Afghan civilians killed by RAF drone
Exclusive: Airstrike in Helmand province is first confirmed operation in which Reaper aircraft has caused civilian deaths

Nick Hopkins

05, Jul, 2011 @8:45 PM

Two British soldiers killed on patrol at Afghan base

RAF servicemen dead after their vehicle hit a device whilst patrolling Nato's main airbase in Kandahar

Richard Norton-Taylor

14, Apr, 2008 @11:37 PM

British rocket fire kills four Afghan civilians

MoD launches investigation into incident which left four civilians dead including two children

Damien Francis

17, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
How British forces fired on Afghan civilians
Ministry of Defence discloses documents revealing casualties in skirmishes with suspected insurgents

26, Oct, 2010 @8:03 PM

Article image
British soldier killed by Afghan insurgents

James Sturcke

01, Sep, 2006 @5:36 PM

British servicemen killed in Afghan blast

Two RAF servicemen die and two others are injured in roadside bombing, MoD says

Sadie Gray and agencies

14, Apr, 2008 @10:28 AM

SAS soldier killed in Afghan blast

Soldier killed by roadside bomb becomes 96th British armed forces personnel to die since campaign began in 2001

Richard Norton-Taylor

19, May, 2008 @11:01 PM