Afghanistan

Defence written question – answered on 26th June 2012.

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Photo of Roger Godsiff Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish documents held by his Department relating to the investigation into a British drone strike that led to Afghan civilian fatalities on 25 March 2011; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Nick Harvey Nick Harvey The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Any incident involving civilian casualties is a matter of deep regret and we take every possible measure to avoid such incidents. We have strict procedures, frequently updated in the light of experience, intended both to minimise the risk of casualties occurring and to investigate any alleged incidents. The incident of 25 March 2011 is the only one in which civilian fatalities are known to have resulted from a UK Reaper strike. A UK Reaper, operating in support of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces, was tasked to engage and destroy two pick-up trucks. The strike resulted in the deaths of two insurgents and the destruction of a significant quantity of explosives being carried on the trucks. Sadly, four Afghan civilians were also killed and a further two Afghan civilians were injured. A joint ISAF-Afghan investigation was conducted to establish if any lessons could be learned or if errors in operational procedures could be identified. The report concluded that the actions of the Reaper crew had been in accordance with ISAF procedures and rules of engagement. I am withholding the report as its disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice, the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

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