British guns used against Nato forces in Afghanistan

September 5, 2010


The 59 Minimi machine guns were not reported missing for almost a year Photo: MoD/PA

Dozens of British machine guns have been stolen in Afghanistan and used against Nato forces, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

Serious questions are being asked about a cover-up by commanders in Helmand after the 59 Minimi machine guns were not reported missing for almost a year. The theft was revealed only when American forces recovered two of the guns following a battle with the Taliban.

He has ordered an inquiry into why enough weapons to equip an infantry battalion could go missing without anyone noticing or being informed.

The light machine guns, which can fire 1,000 rounds a minute, were flown from Britain to Camp Bastion in Helmand last October. They were then transported overland to British forces operating at Kandahar airfield but it is believed the convoy was either ambushed or the weapons were illegally sold. No one realised or reported that they had gone missing until last month, when American forces operating in southern Afghanistan discovered two of the guns, whose serial numbers matched those stolen. Defence sources have described the incident as a “terrible embarrassment for British forces”.

“We have no evidence that they have been used against British forces but clearly it’s an alarming situation,” said one defence source.

A Royal Military Police investigation has been under way since the end of last month. Dr Fox was said to be “livid” and “hit the roof” when told about the incident.

“Alongside the official investigation, he has ordered a wider review of how weapons are transported and is asking some serious questions over how this happened,” an MoD source said. “It’s astonishing that 59 machine guns went missing last year and no one realised it for months.”

An MoD spokesman confirmed the investigation “into the whereabouts of a number of weapons in Afghanistan which remain unaccounted for since late last year”.

He added: “We always take the care and maintenance of our equipment extremely seriously, which is why we have procedures in place to protect against the loss of assets in what continues to be a busy and complex operational environment. Whilst acknowledging the seriousness of this incident, we are confident that there are not significant or widespread problems with the delivery chain.”



One comment

  1. […] The Telegraph reports that dozens of British light machine guns intended for UK forces in Afghanistan were  acquired by Afghan insurgents. […]

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