Britain’s Royal Air Force says it is treating photographs which appear to show at least one serviceman posing with the body of a dead Taliban fighter “extremely seriously”.
The BBC reports that two RAF servicemen have been withdrawn from front-line duties over the pictures, which were taken in 2012 after an attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, and first appeared on the website Live Leak.
The pictures taken by soldier mainly show the damage caused in the attack, but two appear to show a serviceman giving a thumbs-up sign while kneeling over the body of a dead insurgent. It is unclear whether it is the same serviceman in both photos.
A spokesman said that the RAF had a “zero-tolerance policy on the mistreatment of deceased enemy personnel,” and added that RAF police were investigating. The taking of so-called “trophy photographs” is strictly forbidden.
Speaking to the BBC’s Breakfast show this morning, former British Army officer Col Mike Dewar said: “The MoD [Ministry of Defence] will clearly be embarrassed. They expect their soldiers, even when they’re in a situation like this where they’ve been successful and killed the enemy… to behave with a certain amount of dignity and decorum. The Ministry of Defence will be disappointed.”
He added, however, that we need to keep these photographs “in context”: “These men had been in a battle, were excited and for a moment probably did something foolish.”
“In my experience this is the sort of thing soldiers would do in battle, and I don’t think it’s too serious,” he added.