'Hanan's killing has become a symbol of a flawed occupation'

Hanan Saleh Matrud was playing with her friends in a narrow alley which ran beside her house on 21 August last year when the armoured personnel carrier drew up, some 50 metres away.

Hanan Saleh Matrud was playing with her friends in a narrow alley which ran beside her house on 21 August last year when the armoured personnel carrier drew up, some 50 metres away.

A unit of troops from the King's Regiment then spilled out of the vehicle. Stories differ about what happened next. The troops insist they came under attack from stone-throwing mobs, and a warning shot was fired. Locals say the only crowds were playing kids, who had been coaxed into the open by the soldiers' offers of chocolate.

What is certain is that Hanan, a shy eight-year-old, fell after the shot was fired - her abdomen slashed open by a ricocheting bullet.

Her uncle, Faleh, ran out of their one-storey home and carried his niece to the British troops. She was rushed to a Czech-run military hospital. She died, despite a six-hour operation. That sudden end to a short life is now a symbol, for human rights activists at Amnesty International and many MPs, of a flawed and ill-equipped occupation by Britain, where civilian casualties are written off as the unfortunate consequences of a necessary war.

Until the case was exposed by Amnesty in May, the Ministry of Defence did not appear to know it had happened or that the Army had admitted a British bullet "possibly" killed her. Nor did they know her grieving family was given $700 (£390) by Army commanders as a form of "blood money" - an officially sanctioned tactic intended to placate furious relatives without admitting to guilt.

For Hanan, who left behind a school report card, a framed portrait and a death certificate, $700 was seen by the Army as sufficient compensation.

In the slums of Karmat Ali, a northern suburb of Basra, the incident caused outrage. Her father, Saleh Matrud, a taxi driver, insists the shooting was unprovoked.

The soldiers "stopped at the end of the alley and they started giving chocolates to the children", he said earlier this year. "But Hanan is shy and she was afraid to go forwards so she stopped by a metal gate. At that moment a bullet came from the British and hit her in the stomach." The Army is adamant the unit had come under "heavy stone throwing from a number of mobs" - but admits no shots were fired at them.

After several visits by British military investigators, an officer wrote to the family in October and admitted to the "possibility" that her fatal wound was "sustained as a result of the warning shot".

For the MoD, the matter ended there. It claims the Army's Special Investigation Branch had met silence from locals. "In the absence of impartial witness evidence or forensic evidence to suggest a soldier had acted outside the rules of engagement, no crime was established," it states.

In May, after Amnesty's intervention, the Matruds submitted a formal claim for proper compensation - a claim now being assessed by MoD officials in London. SC

News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Arts and Entertainment
The star dances on a balcony in the video
music
News
Official estimates of the level of sham marriages range between 4,000 and 10,000 every year
science
News
Damon Gameua took on a low-fat, high-sugar health food diet for 60 days
peopleAustralian director Damon Gameua was given warning by his GP
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines