Daily Telegraph: A British soldier was killed by insurgents in Iraq by a mortar bomb manufactured in Iran, an inquest was told yesterday. The Daily Telegraph
By Stewart Payne
A British soldier was killed by insurgents in Iraq by a mortar bomb manufactured in Iran, an inquest was told yesterday.
Cpl Matthew Cornish, 29, of 1Bn The Light Infantry, died during an attack on a coalition base in Basra last August.
The revelation that an Iranian bomb had been used in the attack comes two days after Lt Col Patrick Sanders, who planned the recent withdrawal of British troops from Basra Palace, said UK forces were fighting “a proxy war” with Iran.
Speaking after the inquest, Cpl Cornish’s father Robin said: “I do not think there is any doubt that Iranians are involved.
“It is also just as likely that the insurgent who fired the mortar was not from Iraq either.”
A fragment from the high-velocity 60mm mortar round hit his son, a married father of two from Otley, West Yorks, in the head. Andrew Walker, the assistant deputy coroner for Oxfordshire, gave the cause of death as shrapnel wounds to the head and recorded a verdict of unlawful killing. He described the incident as a terrorist act. As the war had officially ended, Cpl Cornish’s death is being treated as murder by military police.
Warrant officer Steven Gelston, an ammunition expert with the Royal Logistics Corps, told the hearing that scientific analysis of the mortar’s tailfin had proved “beyond doubt that it originated inside Iran”.
Cpl Cornish had just returned from routine patrol when the former state buildings used as a military base came under attack.
He was dragged to an accommodation block where he was treated by medics. He was evacuated by helicopter to a field hospital where he died three hours later.
The coroner was told that mortar attacks on the base were a regular occurrence. Capt Andrew Child, second in command of the 1Bn The Light Infantry, said they came from buildings surrounding the base.
“People can walk out of a house, fire, and walk back inside again and we would not know where they had come from,” he told the court.
Mr Cornish said he did not hold anyone responsible for his son’s death. “My son was a soldier in the Army and died as a soldier in the British Army,” he said. He added that he felt for the families of insurgents killed in the conflict. “Matthew told me he had shot insurgents and was very affected by it,” he said.
“This is a war on terror. The people there (in Iraq) are very religious, very committed to what they believe, and although I hate it and oppose it, you have to accept that we in the West are imposing our standards on their countries.”
Cpl Cornish leaves behind his wife Abby, daughter Libby and son Ethan.