Experts say the arrests of seven Royal Marines on suspicion of murdering an insurgent could have damaging consequences for the British presence in Afghanistan.

Britain’s defence ministry says the arrests underline their commitment to having British soldiers act properly under the rules of engagement. But military experts said on Friday the case is extremely unusual as the Royal Marines are known for having a high level of training that would include instruction on acting with restraint.

Michael Clarke of the Royal United Services Institute says the spirit of the unit usually prevents misbehaviour, and that having seven people involved in a single case will heighten the political embarrassment.

Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi said the Afghan government welcomed the arrests because it means that the law is being implemented.

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