British soldiers may be under investigation for killing 52 Afghans
Afghan soldiers prepare their equipment in Helmand, southern Afghanistan on December 21, 2015. (AFP/Noor Mohammad)
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Hundreds of British troops could be investigated over the killings of 52 Afghans during their mission in the conflict-devastated country, a media report said on Monday.
British law firms have brought allegations of 166 cases of killings and mistreatment, in which hundreds of soldiers face questioning. The move can trigger a volley of similar claims against the army.
According to The Telegraph, the Ministry of Defence has created a specialist investigation, Operation Northmoor, to address the allegations from Afghanistan. Scores of Royal Military Police officers are probing 166 separate cases, according to Pahjwok News.
The cases include 52 deaths in 15 different incidents of alleged unlawful killing. The law firm Leigh Day is representing 81 of the Afghans, with parallel compensation claims.
The newspaper said ministers and commanders are concerned legal challenges could see the troops going on trial in The Hague if the UK is seen to be failing to conduct a thorough investigation.
Most of the abuses reportedly happened between 2011 and 2013 when the British military presence in southern Helmand province was at its peak.
"There is a legal requirement to investigate credible allegations of criminal offences by UK Forces, which are held to the highest standards wherever in the world they may be," an MOD spokesman said.
All allegations did not lead to investigations and no one was prosecuted on the basis of allegations alone, the spokesman added. "But we are determined to reduce significantly the number of spurious claims brought against our troops..."
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