UK soldier arrested for giving Afghanistan civilian casualties

UN Secretary-General Ban has urged US and NATO-led forces to prevent civilian casualties in their military attacks in Afghanistan.

UK soldier arrested for giving Afghanistan civilian casualties
A senior British Army officer has been arrested in Afghanistan for allegedly supplying civilian killing figures to a human rights campaigner, British media reported.

Lieutenant-Colonel Owen McNally, 48, was held on suspicion of breaching the Official Secrets Act.

According to The Sun newspaper, Lieutenant-Colonel Owen McNally, 48, had access to the figures through his work for Nato's International Security Assistance Force, which is in Afghanistan occupation.

The campaign group Human Rights Watch said last year that civilian deaths in Afghanistan from US and Nato air strikes nearly tripled to at least 1,633 between 2006 and 2007.

UK Defence Ministry said in a statement: "We can confirm that a British Army officer has been arrested in Afghanistan on suspicion of breaching the Official Secrets Act. He is being returned to the UK for questioning.

If charged, the officer faces a maximum sentence of 14 years if convicted.

"No more civilian casualties"

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged US and NATO-led forces to prevent civilian casualties in their military attacks in Afghanistan.

"I am here to demonstrate and to convey my strong commitment and support for peace and stability for ... Afghanistan's people," Ban said at a joint news conference with Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, in Kabul on Wedneday.

Afghans often protested US-led troops over hundreds of civilian killings in the country.

Earlier, NATO said its forces killed nearly "100" civilians in operations in Afghanistan last year.

Western 55,000-strong troops are in Afganistan occupation for more than seven years.

But an Afghan human rights body has issued different figures based on U.N. estimates.

Body said that foreign troops killed nearly 700 civilians in operations in the year up to October.


Agencies
Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2009, 01:38
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