London (AFP) Feb 10, 2010
Britain has defended the use of more than 100 pigs in military explosives tests in the past five years, saying the experiments had saved lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The swine were used in bomb tests at a government military research laboratory between 2005 and 2009, but defence officials insisted Tuesday the experiments had helped improve treatment of blast injuries.
"This research has led to significant advances in post-traumatic techniques such as reducing blood loss from major trauma and has saved many lives in the theatres of Iraq and Afghanistan," said junior defence minister Quentin Davies.
New techniques developed from the experiments were particularly useful "if there are mass casualties and evacuation to hospital is delayed," he added.
Roadside bombs are the biggest threat facing British and international forces in Afghanistan and the homemade devices kill and maim troops on a daily basis.
A total of 256 British troops have been killed in the country since 2001.
Britain has 9,500 service personnel in Afghanistan as part of more than 110,000 international troops fighting Taliban-led insurgents under US and NATO command.
Britain provided the second largest contingent of troops to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and ended combat operations in the country in April 2009.
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