British soldiers are pictured at the scene of a suicide attack on a European Union police vehicle along the Kabul-Jalalabad road in Kabul on Jan 5, 2015. (WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP)
LONDON – Britain's defense ministry announced on Thursday an inquiry into allegations that its special forces carried out dozens of extrajudicial killings during night raids in Afghanistan.
The announcement follows a report by BBC television's Panorama program in July that alleged soldiers from the elite Special Air Service (SAS) had killed 54 people in suspicious circumstances.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said it had "established an independent statutory inquiry to investigate and report on allegations of wrongdoing by British armed forces in relation to their conduction of deliberate detention operations in Afghanistan".
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Operations must be conducted within the clear boundaries of the law and credible allegations against our forces must always be investigated thoroughly.
Andrew Murrison, Junior Defense Minister, UK
"The inquiry will investigate alleged activity during the period mid-2010 to mid-2013," it said.
The inquiry, which will be led by senior judge Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, would also look at the adequacy of the response to the allegations, the MoD said.
Junior defense minister Andrew Murrison told parliament the decision had been informed by two cases, currently the subject of judicial reviews in Britain, brought by families who allege their relatives were killed by the SAS in 2011 and 2012 and that the circumstances were not properly investigated.
"The UK's armed forces rightly hold themselves to the highest possible operational standards," Murrison said.
"Operations must be conducted within the clear boundaries of the law and credible allegations against our forces must always be investigated thoroughly."
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British military police have previously conducted several inquiries into allegations of misconduct by forces in Afghanistan, including those made against the SAS, but the MoD has said that none found enough evidence for prosecutions.