'Murder in Helmand': why have seven Marines been arrested?
Ministry of Defence acts after soldier claims killing of insurgent last year broke strict rules of engagement
SEVEN Royal Marines have been arrested on suspicion of murder following an incident in Afghanistan's Helmand province last year. According to The Guardian, an investigation into the alleged incident only began in recent weeks after a British soldier who witnessed the killing of an insurgent broke the 'code of silence' and reported his colleagues for allegedly breaking the military's strict rules of engagement.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The incident followed an engagement with an insurgent; there were no civilians involved. The investigation will now be taken forward and dealt with by the service justice system.
"These arrests demonstrate the Department and the Armed Forces' determination to ensure UK personnel act in accordance with their rules of engagement and our standards."
The MoD would give no further details, but the suspects are thought to have been part of 3 Commando Brigade, which operated in the districts of Nahr-e Saraj and Nad Ali. Nineteen service personnel died during the tour of duty.
How might British soldiers find themselves accused of murder?
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt says troops often have to make split-second decisions knowing that they might be prosecuted if they act outside their strict rules of engagement.
"The rules are very rarely made public, because the armed forces do not want insurgents to know more than they already do about the circumstances under which UK service personnel are permitted to fire on them or respond with force."
Wyatt explains that insurgencies are hard to fight because of the ease with which enemy fighters can suddenly drop their weapons and blend in with the civilian population.