UK soldier in friendly fire incident in Afghanistan

LONDON (Reuters) - A British soldier might have been killed by friendly fire from a U.S. aircraft while on patrol in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said on Monday.

The unnamed soldier from the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was killed on Sunday while taking part in an operation to find and disrupt insurgents in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province.

“Initial reports suggest that the death was caused as a result of a friendly fire incident,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The incident will be the subject of a full investigation however first reports indicate that an attack on an insurgent position by a U.S. aircraft, requested by and agreed with British forces on the ground, may have been the cause.”

The statement said the investigation was under way.

The soldier was the 346th member of the British armed forces to have been killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion to topple the Taliban.

In 2007, a British coroner ruled that a U.S. friendly fire air strike that killed a British soldier in Iraq was “criminal.”

A U.S. A-10 tankbuster attack plane killed Lance Corporal Matty Hull by firing on his vehicle near Basra in the first week of the 2003 invasion, after the American pilots mistook Hull’s British convoy for Iraqis.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Maria Golovnina