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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Saturday, 26 July 2008 16:11 UK

UK troops kill Afghan civilians

Black Watch soldier in Iraq
The incident took place in the Sangin district of Helmand

British troops in southern Afghanistan have killed four civilians and injured three others after a vehicle failed to stop at a checkpoint.

Soldiers opened fire on the vehicle north of Sangin town centre in Helmand Province, suspecting that those inside were insurgents, Nato said.

The wounded were taken to a field hospital at the UK's Camp Bastion.

The Ministry of Defence expressed regret over the incident and said the driver had ignored warning shots.

A spokesman said there was always a risk vehicles which failed to stop could contain explosives.

He added: "It's regrettable that this has happened but it's very hard to make these decisions."

The International Security Assistance Force said the situation had been "caused by the reckless actions of the vehicle driver''.

An investigation into the incident is to take place.

British medical personnel treated the three injured civilians at the scene before they were taken to the nearby Camp Inkerman for further checks.

They were later transferred by helicopter to Camp Bastion.

Suicide attacks

Helmand is one of the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan, with Taleban insurgents active.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead said it had been a "bad week" for troops at Camp Inkerman.

Dog handler L/Cpl Kenneth Michael Rowe, 24, was killed after a patrol came under attack from the Taleban and a soldier was injured when a British mortar bomb fell short.

In June, a suicide bomber killed three troops in the area.

Our correspondent said: "Suicide attacks are a major risk in the Sangin valley."

In recent years there have been a number of such incidents.

Troops have warned civilians to keep away from their convoys and checkpoints.

However, some Afghans, apparently unaware that they are seen as a threat, have failed to heed these warnings.





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