“An Afghan national policeman from the checkpoint started firing without warning before anyone could really respond,” an Afghan defense ministry statement said Wednesday.
“The soldiers were all killed as a result of gunshot wounds sustained in an attack in the Nad-e’Ali district of Helmand Province during the afternoon of November 3, 2009,” the statement said.
The Afghan policeman has reportedly run away after shooting the British soldiers. Two Afghan policeman are also believed to have been killed.
The deaths take to 92 the number of British troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan, and to 229 the number of British servicemen who have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.
This year has been the bloodiest for the UK armed forces since the Falklands War in 1982.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ordered an investigation and reacted to the incident, saying that ‘the death of five brave soldiers in a single incident is a terrible loss’.
The troops are thought to include senior non-commissioned officers who had been stationed at the post for two weeks alongside a police detachment.
The killing will inevitably raise questions about Britain’s continued commitment to Afghanistan.