British soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2009 was victim of friendly fire

September 4th, 2012 - 11:51 pm ICT by BNO News  

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND (BNO NEWS) — A British soldier who died of wounds following an engagement in southern Afghanistan in December 2009 was attacked by U.S. helicopter crews who thought they were attacking insurgents, an inquest was told on Monday, according to local media.

Lance Corporal Christopher Roney, 23, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was seriously injured on December 20, 2009, during an engagement in Sangin, a town in Helmand province. He received emergency treatment and was airlifted to a military hospital but died as a result of serious head injuries a day later.

An inquest began in Sunderland on Monday and heard Patrol Base Almas had come under attack from insurgents. The platoon based there was busy fighting them off and called in air support, after which a drone and two helicopters flew to the base, which was a compound with new mud walls which were not on official maps.

By the time air support arrived, British troops on the ground had already fought off the attackers, according to the BBC. But the U.S. helicopter crews incorrectly identified the coalition troops as insurgents, even though the patrol base had a flagpole, a washing line, defensive constructions, and personnel not dressed like the enemy.

Coroner Derek Winter said the 30mm chain gun rounds injured twelve people, including Roney who later died, and destroyed a communication mast. He said the Apache crews had not been informed, nor did they ask, for the exact location of Patrol Base Almas.

“They were unaware that the compound they were observing and in which they believed they had positively identified insurgents was, in fact, Patrol Base Almas,” Winter was quoted as saying by the BBC. “Fused by the overwhelming belief that Patrol Base Almas was at risk of being overrun, the subsequent reactions and actions to these events created a devastating cumulative effect.”

The inquest is expected to last until Friday.

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