Army opens investigation into civilian death

Military prosecutors suspect soldier of excessive use of force in Afghan shootings

A Danish soldier stationed in Afghanistan stands accused of disobeying Army rules when he opened fire on three Afghans he claimed were involved in setting a bomb, the military command, Hærens Operative Kommando (HOK), announced on Wednesday.

One person was killed and two were injured on October 23 in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, according to Forsvarets Auditørkorpset, the military’s prosecutor, which is now investigating the event.

The episode was earlier described by HOK as follows: on October 23 a Danish soldier at the forward patrol base Bridzar saw four people who “were judged to be in the process of laying down an improvised explosive”.

The soldier opened fire without orders on “the observed people”, the report continued.

Danish commanders in Afghanistan began a preliminary investigation of the event after “rumours of civilian death” began to circulate in connection with the incident. On November 25 they concluded that it was “probable” that the soldier had killed one civilian and injured two others, and the case was taken up by Forsvarets Auditorkorpset.

HOK declined to comment further, given the ongoing nature of the investigation. But it emphasised that the soldier was not necessarily guilty and that an independent investigation was, first and foremost, “the best protection for our soldiers”.

In another case of a civilian casualty, in 2009 Denmark awarded an Afghan family financial compensation in “sympathy” for the loss of their daughter, who was killed during a shootout between Danish soldiers and the Taleban.

Although Denmark paid the family, HOK did not formally accept responsibility for the girl’s death, as Forsvarets Auditørkorpset failed to establish beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Danish soldiers were responsible for the girl’s death.

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