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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Ukrainian marines stop drivers
Ukrainian marines - Nato
The marines set up check points
An apology has been issued to civilians caught up in an incident involving armed soldiers taking part in a Nato exercise in south west Scotland.

Motorists using a public road in Wigtownshire were forced to stop by Ukrainian marines acting with French soldiers.

The events took place during an amphibious landing exercise at Luce Bay on Saturday.

Two armed Ukrainian marines, involved in a mock hunt for terrorists, had forced a number of vehicles on a coastal road near Port William to pull over.

I think in this case we had a situation where we had some troops that were unfamiliar with their surroundings and possibly became over zealous
Major John Pulman
One driver, who had been unaware of the Nato exercise, had children in the car and said they were left deeply distressed by the incident.

Major John Pulman, a Nato exercise commander, confirmed that complaints had been made and immediate action had been taken.

Major Pulman said all troops involved had been given clear instructions not to engage civilians at any time.

"I think in this case we had a situation where we had some troops that were unfamiliar with their surroundings and possibly became over zealous in their application of what they were required to do," he said.

"We subsequently followed up by speaking to the commanding officer of the unit concerned and reiterating those instructions that were in place."

'Entirely unacceptable'

He added that a full review of the incident was under way.

Alex Fergusson, the MSP for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, said he was deeply disturbed by the incident.

"This must have been a terrifying ordeal for some people who were simply enjoying a drive in the countryside, especially for the young children involved," said Mr Fergusson.

"I think it's unacceptable that this sort of thing should happen and I hope there are urgent investigations within the armed forces and the MoD and indeed Nato itself.

"It is entirely unacceptable in any shape or form."


SEE ALSO:
Scottish coast to host war games
11 Sep 03  |  Scotland
US seeks Nato help on Iraq
16 Jan 03  |  Middle East
Nato chief defends Bush on Iraq
26 Dec 02  |  Middle East
Nato exercises start in Georgia
18 Jun 02  |  Europe


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