ULSTER Army medic Channing Day a Royal Marine commando may have been shot by someone in an Afghan uniform.
Today, the Ministry of Defence said that following an investigation they had rule out the possibility that the pair had been killed by British forces.
The theory follows an investigation into the deaths Cpl David O’Connor, 27, of 40 Commando, and Cpl Channing Day, 25, of 3 Medical Regiment, from Comber, Co Down.
They were fatally injured on Wednesday in a firefight while on patrol in Helmand province.
They came under fire near the village of Char Kutsa, in the Nahr-e Saraj district.
An Afghan man is also reported to have died in the incident.
The MoD says a preliminary investigation has refuted Afghan police claims that the pair were shot by their own comrades.
It says an initial review at the scene, carried out by Nato specialists and Afghan government representatives, concluded the shooting was not a “friendly fire” incident involving British forces.
Instead the shooting is said to have been was caused by what the MoD calls “a third party or parties whose identities have yet to be established but who are not UK personnel”.
Afghan officials had said that the British patrol had shot dead an off-duty Afghan policeman who was not in uniform but was carrying a weapon as he washed in a stream – mistaking him for an insurgent.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the deaths were “a terrible tragedy in Afghanistan”.
He went on: “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 so-called 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.”
The MoD says, “Further investigation into the involvement or otherwise of the dead Afghan male is ongoing.”
It adds that its analysis is likely to take some time while forensic and other tests are carried out.
A parallel Royal Military Police investigation is also being conducted.
Cpl O’Connor was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of September as a section commander in the acting rank of corporal.
Cpl Day, who joined the Army in 2005 and was deployed to Afghanistan on 2 October, was the third British female to have died while serving in Afghanistan since 2001.
A total of 435 British military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since operations started in 2001.
Friends said Channing Day had always wanted to join the British Army. She was a former cadet and joined 3 Medic when she turned turned 18.
She recently wrote in her Facebook page: “In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were scared to have and the decisions we waited to long to make.
“There comes a time in your life when you realise who matters, who doesn’t, who never did and who always will.’’