October 12, 2012 - 12:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Seven Royal Marines have been arrested on suspicion of murder, the Ministry of Defense has said, according to BBC News.
The arrests by the Royal Military Police related to an incident in Afghanistan last year, when 3 Commando Brigade was based in Helmand.
The MoD said the incident followed an "engagement with an insurgent" and no civilians were involved.
It is thought it is the first time UK servicemen have been arrested on such charges during the conflict.
An MoD spokesman said: "The investigation will now be taken forward and dealt with by the service justice system. These arrests demonstrate the Department and the Armed Forces' determination to ensure UK personnel act in accordance with their rules of engagement and our standards. It would be inappropriate to make any further comment while the investigation is under way."
The Afghan Defense Ministry welcomed the announcement and spokesman General Zahir Azimi said it was important British and Nato forces respect the laws of war.
The armed forces' rules of engagement stipulate under what circumstances British forces are allowed to open fire, either in direct contact with the enemy or to prevent an imminent attack.
The rules are very rarely made public, because the armed forces do not want insurgents to know more than they already do about the circumstances under which UK service personnel are permitted to fire on them or respond with force.
Insurgencies were hard to fight because of the ease with which enemy fighters could drop their weapons and switch in an instant from armed insurgent to blending in with the civilian population, our correspondent said.
The MoD said that as with any serious incident of this nature, there would be an internal review to identify lessons learned.
Defense sources are keen to stress that the vast majority of UK forces in Helmand have conducted themselves according to the standards expected of them