Mirror, January 5, 2015
British soldiers killed 186 innocent civilians in Afghanistan, MoD figures reveal
A Freedom of Information request shows that the average compensation paid to families of the bereaved was just 3,000 GBP
By Sean Rayment
British soldiers were responsible for the deaths of almost 200 innocent men, women and children during eight years of fighting in Afghanistan.
Most of those killed were victims of “collateral damage” when caught up in crossfire between British forces and the Taliban.
But dozens were killed in airstrikes and artillery barrages, while others were shot dead after being mistaken for insurgents.
More than 40 civilians were reportedly killed in one British attack in 2007, a Freedom of Information request shows.
Human cost: The MoD says compensation averaging £3,000 was paid to the families of 186 Afghan civilians killed by British troops. (Photo: Daily Mirror/Barcroft)
The previously unseen documents also reveal the Ministry of Defence paid on average £3,000 in compensation for every person killed – a fraction of the amount that would have been paid to a British civilian accidentally killed by the Army.
The figures also reveal troops damaged or destroyed more than 4,000 Afghan homes.
MoD figures show that since 2006, when British troops first arrived in Afghanistan, the government paid out £4.2million in compensation for damage to property.
And £570,000 in compensation was given to the families of 186 people who were killed in fighting against the Taliban or who were mistakenly shot dead by British troops.
The government also paid out £307,000 in compensation to about 200 Afghan civilians wounded by UK forces.
The documents released to the Sunday People list hundreds of claims.
The report of one incident on May 27, 2007, in the Girishk area of Helmand, where British troops were based, simply states: “son, brother killed and 44 others”.
An airstrike took place three days later in Sangin, where 29 members of one family were killed. Two girls were also said to have been shot that day.
The greatest number of fatalities occurred between 2009/10 and 2010/11, when compensation was paid out to the families of 120 Afghans.
From 2008 to 2011, the MoD paid compensation on 2,200 property claims.
Troops involved in the accidental death of civilians have faced disciplinary action.
One hearing centred on the death of a 65-year-old Afghan civilian who was shot in the neck while praying on his knees in a field in May 2009.
It is understood that no soldiers have been court-martialled.
An MoD spokesman said: “Any harm caused to civilians is to be regretted.
"UK forces in Afghanistan worked under strict operating procedures and made every effort to minimise the risk of civilian casualties.
"Any incidents that did happen were investigated. Where appropriate compensation was paid.”
Originally published on Jan. 3, 2014
Characters Count: 3695