Surrey soldier James Hill killed on 'insecure' range

L/Cpl James Hill L/Cpl James Hill died on a training range four days after arriving at Camp Bastion in central Helmand

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A 23-year-old soldier was killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device (IED) on an "insecure" rifle training range, an inquest has heard.

L/Cpl James Hill, of Surrey, died four days after arriving at his barracks at Camp Bastion in Helmand in 2009.

The inquest in Woking heard that the soldier's colleagues had been concerned about the safety of the training range.

The local population had access to the site and "scavenged for ammunition cases", the hearing was told.

'Unfettered access'

On the day he died, L/Cpl Hill, of 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards, went from Camp Bastion to carry out rifle training on the range about 4km from the base.

The training, which included rifle handling and firing in desert conditions, was part of a programme that aimed to acclimatise soldiers to local conditions.

L/Cpl Matthew Cutting told the inquest that local people had unfettered access to the site both before and after training periods.

He said: "I have concerns about the security of the range with local nationals scavenging for ammunition cases after the exercises.

"This could and would have given them the opportunity to conceal an IED."

Colour Sgt Ryan Robinson, who was in charge of the firing range, said he had raised concerns about the security of the area.

He said he was not satisfied with assurances that RAF personnel were carrying out a scan of the site for IEDs each morning, because such scans had a limited effectiveness as discharged cartridge cases set off the detectors.

He said: "We asked questions when we first went out there because we had concerns about the range due to the fact that it wasn't as close to Bastion as we had initially been informed.

"There came a time when I realised security was not as good as I thought it was."

The inquest continues.

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