Telegraph | Dec 18, 2007
By Emma Henry
British troops are believed to have killed two Danish soldiers in a “friendly fire” attack in Afghanistan, the Danish equivalent of the Ministry of Defence has said.
Privates Mikkel Keil Sorensen and Thorbjorn Ole Reese were killed on Sept 26 in Helmand Province but the report into their deaths was only released today.
Both soldiers died of shrapnel wounds during strikes by British troops, who thought they were firing at the Taliban, according to the Danes.
Their report said that the soldiers were on duty in a compound to the north west of Helmand River on Sept 26 while British units were to the south east.
Accounts given by Danish troops said that an ongoing firefight between the Taliban and British positions broke out and at 9.28pm the Danish compound was hit, killing Private Ole Reese and wounding a non-commissioned officer.
The Danish troops presumed they had been hit by the Taliban and launched their own attack but an hour later, another strike hit their compound, killing Private Keil Sorenson.
At least three missiles identified “with 100 per cent certainty” to be the type used by British forces and not by the Taliban were later found in the compound,
Investigators had concluded there was a “high degree of probability” that fragments of missiles found during the post-mortems on the soldiers matched the same type of rocket.
Times given by British troops for when they fired missiles also matched the times of the strikes at the Danish compound.
The report concluded: “On the basis of the information available today, it is the opinion of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps that private Thorbjorn Ole Reese and private Mikkel Keil Sorensen were killed as a result of strikes by British soldiers which, by a tragic mistake, were directed towards the compound where the Danish soldiers were in position.”
The two soldiers were part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and had been on operations north of Gereshk, trying to combat the Taliban, when they were killed.
Brig Andrew Mackay, Commander Task Force Helmand, said in a statement: “I am, of course, concerned that we establish exactly what happened on September 26.
“As the Danish report makes clear, the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident will be thoroughly investigated by the British Army and until that process is complete, we will not be in a position to make further comment.”
Brig Mackay also expressed his “deepest sympathies” for the soldiers’ families, adding that their deaths would not sway the resolve of their fellow Danish troops still in Afghanistan.
He said: “I know that they will continue to show the same bravery and dedication to their duties as they continue to play a vital role alongside us in the defeat of the Taliban within Helmand.”