Eighty Afghans may have been victims of summary killings by three separate British SAS units operating in the country between 2010 and 2013, lawyers representing the bereaved families have told a public inquiry.
One of the elite soldiers is believed to have “personally killed” 35 Afghans on a single six-month tour of duty as part of an alleged policy to terminate “all fighting-age males” in homes raided, “regardless of the threat they posed”.
Between June 2011 and May 2013, 25 suspicious deaths were recorded by the lawyers, which included an allegation that in one SAS raid that “resulted in the deaths of 4/5 Afghans” only one grenade was found. The events of the operation were so violent that two Afghan children “had to be urgently evacuated for medical treatment”.
It had been previously estimated that there were 54 Afghan victims from a single SAS unit, but the lawyers now argue the allegations cover more British troops and a longer period than previously suggested, and “reveal credible evidence of a widespread and systematic pattern of unlawful extrajudicial killings”.
The lawyers also argue that in the years that followed, there was “a wide-ranging, multilayered and years-long cover-up” involving senior officers, officials and a range of inquiries. At one point, military police ordered the leadership of the UK’s special forces not to delete any material held on their server.
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