Britain probes claims that soldier kept Taliban fingers

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Britain's Ministry of Defence said Monday it was investigating allegations that a soldier sliced off the fingers of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and kept them as macabre souvenirs.

According to The Sun tabloid, the soldier from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, collected the keepsakes while he was serving in the restive southern province of Helmand.

"It seems he may have been chopping off the fingers of the dead Taliban fighters. There is a rumour that he may have wanted to keep them as souvenirs, which is macabre in the extreme," a source told the newspaper.

"These allegations have rocked the battalion. That said, they are being kept very hush hush for obvious reasons.

"Only one soldier is said to have been involved. The Afghanistan tour was his first one and it's possible that the stresses of that made him do these horrific things."

The soldier reportedly returned to Britain from Afghanistan earlier this year and is being investigating by the army's elite Special Investigation Branch.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "We are aware of the allegations and an investigation is ongoing."

Britain has about 9,500 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of NATO forces fighting Taliban insurgents.

© 2011 AFP

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