BBC News | Tuesday, 13 July 2010v| 10:41 GMT
Three British soldiers have been killed by an Afghan soldier in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the incident was believed to have been deliberate. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has apologised to the UK after the incident which took place in the Nahr-e Saraj district on Tuesday. An investigation is under way and no further details have been released – next of kin are being informed. There is a helpline number in the UK for concerned relatives – 08457 800900. It is understood there will not be any confirmation of the circumstances surrounding the incident until the next of kin are informed. An Afghan defence ministry spokesman said the attack was carried out with a rocket-propelled grenade, and that four other British soldiers were also injured in the attack. He said an Afghan soldier was being sought following the incident. The BBC’s Caroline Wyatt said it is understood that at least two are UK nationals.
The news emerged at a press conference given by the Afghan president Hamid Karzai. The incident will re-awaken memories of last November, when an Afghan policeman shot dead five British soldiers in their compound, and seriously wounded six others, our correspondent added. She also said this latest tragedy will again intensify debate over the human costs of the mission in Afghanistan – and over whether the West’s exit strategy, which relies on training the Afghan Army and police, can hope to succeed. Downing Street said Prime Minister David Cameron was being kept informed about the incident. The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville, who is in Kabul, said similar incidents have happened in the past but it is not always insurgents who are behind it. He said that sometimes local matters and other grievances can be behind it. The NATO commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus said: “This is a combined joint mission – Afghan and Alliance troopers fighting shoulder to shoulder against the Taliban and other extremists. We have sacrificed greatly together and we must ensure the trust between our forces remains solid in order to defeat our common enemies.” A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We are aware of an incident this morning in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province involving Isaf troops. An investigation is under way and more details will be released when appropriate.”