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Support for seven arrested Marines
More than 31,500 people have joined a Facebook group set up to show support for seven Royal Marines arrested on suspicion of murder following an incident in Afghanistan last year.
The group, "Support the 7 Royal Marine Commandos arrested for murder in afghanistan", was launched on Thursday, the day the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the arrest of the personnel - believed to be members of 3 Commando Brigade which served in the country between April and October 2011.
The person who set up the page claims to be serving in the British Armed Forces and deploying to Afghanistan "in the next few days", although he says he is not a Royal Marine.
In the information section about the page, he wrote: "This page is set up to show support for the seven Royal Marine Commandos arrested for murder for an event which happened in afghanistan 2011 where no civilians where injured and one gunman killed which shot at them FIRST" (sic).
By Saturday afternoon the page had just over 31,600 "likes", with people using the page to argue in support of the arrested troops but also some criticising the role of troops in the war-torn country.
One member called Wendy Britton, wrote: "I am a mum of a serving Royal (Marine) who served over in Afghanistan with these seven brave Royals. I personally would like to pay my thanks to them and everyone who has served for protecting us and allowing me to sleep easy in my bed.
"This has shaken the core of our Royals, former Royals and all who are associated with them. I cried for these seven poor your Royals for being punished for doing their job. Give us back our seven heroes with their pride and dignity intact. Do it sooner rather than later and then let us celebrate their freedom as we celebrate ours."
The Royal Military Police (RMP) arrested the soldiers in connection with an incident which occurred while they were based in Helmand last year. The incident was described as "an engagement with an insurgent", with no civilians involved, and an investigation has been launched by the Service Justice System.
The rules of engagement, largely derived from the Geneva Convention, dictate under what circumstances British troops are allowed to open fire, whether that is to prevent an attack by the enemy or in direct contact.
The MoD said that like civilian police the RMP has a maximum of 96 hours to question the men before either charging them or releasing them, although as they are serving soldiers they can then be "confined to barracks".