British troops kill Afghan civilians

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The Independent Online

British troops accidentally killed four civilians and wounded three others with rockets during an operation against Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, Nato and British officials said last night.

Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said women and children were among the casualties, but it did not give a detailed breakdown of the dead and injured.

Britain's Ministry of Defence said British paratroopers were involved in the incident in the Sangin district of Helmand province on Saturday. ISAF and British forces would investigate, it said.

ISAF said a patrol had spotted insurgents with weapons on the roof of a compound who were preparing to attack.

"In order to protect themselves (the British soldiers) launched three rockets all of which hit the target. Unbeknown to the patrol, the civilians were inside the compound at the time," it said in a statement.

"The casualties were treated at a nearby ISAF medical facility where two of them, children, remain seriously ill," it said.

"ISAF deeply regrets the tragedy of this incident when women and children were killed and injured as a result of an imminent insurgent attack from a position where they would have known women and children were present," it added.

Some 115 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan since they joined the U.S.-led invasion of the country in late 2001. Most of Britain's 8,000-strong force in Afghanistan is based in Helmand, which has been the focus of intense fighting with the Taliban.

British troops accidentally killed four civilians and wounded three others with rocketsduring an operation against Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan. Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said women and children were among the casualties. The Ministry of Defence said British paratroopers were involved and it would investigate the incident in Helmand.

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