More than 50 detainees and unarmed men have been killed by British troops in Afghanistan, according to recently obtained military reports and a BBC investigation.
The BBC’s Panorama programme, which is due to air on Tuesday evening, reviewed operations documents from the Special Air Service (SAS) – an elite British unit used in special operations – and found they included ” reports covering more than a dozen ‘kill or capture raids’ carried out by an SAS squadron in Helmand in 2010/11.
People who served with the SAS squadron on this deployment spoke to the program and said they saw SAS agents “killing unarmed people in night raids”, according to a BBC News report.
According to the ex-soldiers’ account, the killing of an individual was justified by planting an AK-47 assault rifle at the scene and some individuals within the force “competed with each other for the most kills”.
The report also alleges that “internal emails show that officers at the highest levels of the special forces were aware that there were concerns of possible unlawful killings, but did not report the suspicions to the military police despite legal obligation to do so”.
The BBC investigation suggests that “one unit may have unlawfully killed 54 people during a six-month tour”.
General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, the former head of Britain’s special forces, was ‘taught of the alleged unlawful killings but failed to pass the evidence to the Royal Military Police, even after the RMP opened an investigation into a murder in the SAS squadron”.
The Department of Defense said the Panorama program “jumps to unwarranted conclusions from allegations that have already been thoroughly investigated”, adding that the investigation into alleged incidents in the program will not did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute.
The department also said it “is open to reviewing any new evidence, there will be no obstruction.”
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