Essex soldiers hurt in 'friendly fire'

NINE Essex-based soldiers have been injured following a “friendly fire” incident in Afghanistan.

Anthony Bond

NINE Essex-based soldiers have been injured following a “friendly fire” incident in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence said tonight that a British Apache helicopter opened fire on troops from Colchester-based 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment on Wednesday after they were mistaken for enemy forces.

One seriously injured soldier was flown back to the UK and is described as being in a stable condition while two others remain at Camp Bastion medical centre where they are being kept in for observation. Six other soldiers injured have returned to duty. Next of kin have been informed.

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It follows a dreadful month for the regiment after seven soldiers were killed in just three weeks in June.

A statement from the MOD said: On July 9 at 12.27pm, a routine British patrol requested fire support from a British Apache when they encountered enemy forces near Forward Operating Base Gibraltar.

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“After successfully engaging one enemy position, the Apache fired upon another position which the crew believed to be held by enemy forces. However, in the confusion of a rapidly changing situation and in what is a challenging environment, it would appear that friendly forces were mistaken for the enemy and as a result three members of the patrol were seriously wounded and six more were classified as walking wounded.

“The seriously wounded personnel were moved by helicopter to Camp Bastion medical facilities. An investigation is under way into how the incident occurred and it would be inappropriate to comment until that investigation is complete.”

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