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An initial review into the deaths of a Royal Marine from Havant, and an army medic in Afghanistan has revealed the killings were not caused by`friendly fire'', the Ministry of Defence has said.
27 year old Corporal David O'Connor, from 40 Commando and 25 year old Corporal Channing Day, 25, who served with the 3 Medical Regiment, were fatally injured while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on Wednesday.
An Afghan man, who is believed to have been a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police but who was not wearing uniform at the time, also died during the incident, an MOD spokesperson confirmed. He said the UK patrol was not working with any Afghan partners at the time.
He also said: `A Joint Incident Assessment Team, comprising specialists from ISAF, along with representatives from the government of Afghanistan, have conducted an initial review at the scene and have concluded that this was not a Blue-on-Blue ('friendly fire') incident, and that the deaths of Cpl O'Connor and Cpl Day were caused by a third party or parties whose identities have yet to be established but who are not UK personnel. Further investigation into the involvement or otherwise of the dead Afghan male is ongoing.'
He said analysis of the event is `likely to take some time' while forensic examinations are carried out.'
A parallel Royal Military Police investigation is also being undertaken. Yesterday Defence Secretary Philip Hammond paid tribute to Cpl O'Connor and Cpl Day and said what happened remains unclear. He said: `It is a terrible tragedy in Afghanistan and I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the soldier and marine who were killed. `
'The circumstances are not entirely clear, there is an investigation ongoing. We know there were three people dead, one of them wearing civilian clothes. ``It is not absolutely clear as yet exactly what did happen and that investigation will continue until we find out exactly what happened.'
Asked if it was another ``green on blue attack'' - where Afghans turn on their Isaf partners - Mr Hammond said: `There is a possibility that that is what has happened but it is not clear at this stage who the shooter actually was.'