WARSAW (AFP) — Military authorities charged six Polish soldiers with murdering civilians in Afghanistan during an August incident involving Polish troops from a NATO-led security force.
The soldiers could face 12 years in prison if found guilty of their alleged role in shootings in a village in the eastern part of the country.
Another soldier was charged with the lesser offence of opening fire on a civilian target, prosecutors said.
All seven soldiers were arrested Tuesday and remain in custody.
On Tuesday, the defence ministry said the arrests followed the soldiers' "violation of the standards of international law and notably the Hague and Geneva Conventions," which regulate the behaviour of the military in conflict zones.
Poland currently has 1,200 troops serving with NATO's 36,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is battling a Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.
The Polish defence ministry had said that several civilians were killed in an Afghan village on August 16 when Polish troops returned fire after being ambushed by unknown attackers in Wazi-Khwa in eastern Afghanistan.
But the Polish military prosecutor's office said that the shootings in fact took place several hours after the ambush.
Karol Frankowski, the military prosecutor leading the investigation, told reporters the Polish troops' attack on the village was not linked to "any direct, genuine and simultaneous act of aggression by the local population, nor any behaviour threatening the life, health and security of the Polish soldiers or other countries' soldiers serving in ISAF".
The number of victims has not been revealed.
The shootings in Wazi-Khwa came two days after a Polish soldier had been killed by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, in what was the first fatality for Poland since it joined the NATO-led force in March 2002.
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