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Unarmed Afghans shot by UK Special Forces, says British minister

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Kabul – The UK’s Veterans’ Minister, Johnny Mercer, has disclosed that serving army officers informed him of instances where unarmed Afghans were allegedly shot by UK special forces in Afghanistan. Mercer’s revelations came during his testimony to the Afghanistan inquiry, which scrutinizes the killings of unarmed civilians by UK special forces during night raids spanning from mid-2010 to mid-2013.

Addressing the public inquiry, Mercer expressed his determination to debunk any potential cover-up of purported murders by UK special forces in the conflict-ridden nation. Despite his efforts, he admitted being unable to substantiate such claims. Known for his staunch stance against false allegations targeting UK forces, particularly in Iraq, Mercer recounted being cautioned by a serving military officer against delving too deeply into the matter.

According to Mercer, discussions highlighted serious allegations implicating special forces in Afghanistan, including the killing of individuals deemed non-threatening. While training to join the special forces, Mercer acknowledged being privy to conversations about these allegations but dismissed them as mere rumors at the time.

In further testimony, Mercer detailed an encounter where a friend disclosed being asked to carry a “dropped weapon,” implying a scheme to plant weapons near the bodies of unarmed Afghans to fabricate evidence of armed confrontation.

Expressing skepticism, Mercer indicated disbelief in statements by the director of special forces and the chief of general staff, who asserted a lack of evidence regarding extrajudicial killings. Following these discussions, Mercer conveyed his concerns to then-defence secretary Ben Wallace, highlighting suspicions of misconduct.

Despite his efforts, Mercer lamented his inability to disprove a potential cover-up of the alleged murders, expressing a personal struggle with the allegations. He emphasized his reluctance to accept such accusations, driven by his connections to comrades who perished or were profoundly affected by their experiences in Afghanistan. Despite his desire to find evidence to refute the allegations, Mercer admitted to encountering obstacles at every turn, leaving him unable to shake doubts regarding the integrity of the special forces’ actions.

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