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UK soldier allegedly kept fingers of dead Taliban

world Updated: Aug 08, 2011 19:08 IST

Reuters
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A British soldier fighting in Afghanistan is being investigated over claims he cut off the fingers of dead Taliban insurgents and kept them as souvenirs, the Sun newspaper said on Monday.

The allegations centre around a soldier who served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, during their tour of the restive southern province of Helmand, the Sun tabloid reported.

"We can confirm that an incident is being investigated by the Royal Military Police (Special Investigation Branch)," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

"It would not be appropriate to comment further while this process is ongoing."

It was the Argylls' second tour to the country, during which they helped with the running of the local police training centre, while some companies were with other combat units.

The investigation is believed to have begun after their return in April.

"It seems he may have been chopping off the fingers of the dead Taliban fighters," a source was cited by The Sun as saying.

"There is a rumour that he may have wanted to keep them as souvenirs, which is macabre in the extreme. These allegations have rocked the battalion."

British soldiers are told to treat enemy dead with the same respect that they would treat their own, a military figure said.

"In all my time in the Army, both with Scottish soldiers and with the SAS, I have never heard of anything like this happening," Clive Fairweather, a retired colonel and SAS commander who was an honorary colonel of the Argylls' cadet force, told the Sun.

"Taking trophies from dead combatants is a sure fire way to provoke anger in the local population."

Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, the second-largest contingent of foreign troops after the United States.