Page last updated at 07:16 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 08:16 UK

RAF leaflet box kills Afghan girl

RAF C130 Hercules
The RAF tries to reach local people with leaflet drops

The Ministry of Defence is investigating the death of a young Afghan girl who died after being hit by a box of leaflets dropped by the RAF.

The information leaflets were dropped in boxes from an RAF Hercules aircraft in Helmand province on 23 June.

The box failed to break apart in mid-air and landed on top of the girl who died later in hospital.

The MoD said it deeply regretted the "tragic incident", and a full investigation was under way.

A spokesman said the public information leaflets were dropped by the C130 Hercules in a rural area. The boxes are supposed to open in mid-air, scattering the leaflets over a wide area.

The unopened box seriously injured the girl who was treated at a local hospital in Kandahar.

"Despite the best efforts of staff, she died as a result of her injuries," the spokesman said.

Leaflet drops have been used extensively in Afghanistan by US and British forces in the battle to win the "hearts and minds" of the local population.

The MoD would not comment on what type of leaflet was involved, but past leaflets have included information about the election campaign, mine awareness campaigns, and warnings of impending military action in an area

In May, C130 aircraft based in Afghanistan with 904 Expeditionary Air Wing dropped 200,000 leaflets in support of the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force.

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