The true tally of child deaths from British military activity could be as high as 135 because in some cases, the people killed were listed as “son” or “daughter” with no age given, says the London-based group Action on Armed Violence.
Britain paid compensation to the families of at least 64 children killed by UK military action in Afghanistan, a charity said – four times more than previously acknowledged.
The London-based advocacy and research group Action on Armed Violence said on Wednesday it received the information in response to freedom of information requests.
It said the UK paid compensation to the families of 64 children who were killed between 2006 and 2014. It said the youngest for whom age was recorded was 1 and the oldest 15. Airstrikes and being caught in the crossfire were the most common causes of death.
Action on Armed Violence said the average compensation payment was $1,894 (1,656 pounds).
The group said the true tally of child deaths from British military activity could be as high as 135 because in some cases the people killed were listed as “son” or “daughter” with no age given.
'Consequence of poor targeting'?
It said there was “absolutely no evidence that there was a deliberate targeting of civilians or children by the British military, and these tragedies must be marked down as a consequence of poor targeting, over-use of heavy weaponry or fighting in populated areas.”
Britain’s Ministry of Defence previously acknowledged paying compensation over the deaths of 16 children.
The ministry said in a statement Wednesday that “any civilian death during conflict is a tragedy, more so when children and family members are involved. The UK armed forces work hard to minimise that risk, which regrettably can never be entirely eliminated.”
“We investigate reports of civilian casualties and are always open to re-examine where new information is submitted,” it said.
The ministry said it was “following” a US Department of Defense review of how it investigates civilian casualties “and will take into account any outcomes that may assist our own processes.”
More than 450 British troops died in Afghanistan between the US-led invasion in 2001 and the end of UK combat operations in 2014.