Polish military investigates if soldiers in Afghanistan blew up house for fun

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's military said Friday that it has opened an investigation to determine whether a group of Polish soldiers blew up an empty house in Afghanistan for fun.

Such an act would violate the Geneva Conventions, which define the needless destruction of civilian property as a war crime. If true, it would also prove an embarrassment to Poland's 2,600-strong military mission to Afghanistan.

Col. Piotr Lukasiewicz, a Ministry of Defense official who represents Polish operations in Afghanistan, said that military police and prosecutors are investigating a video of the explosion that has appeared on the Internet.

The three-minute film shows an explosion set amid the backdrop of an arid and empty area in Afghanistan. The voices of soldiers are heard in the background making jokes.

"Most probably it was a deserted house in the middle of nowhere, as it looks on the film," Lukasiewicz said.

The film is shot from a distance and details are difficult to make out, but Lukasiewicz said it seems to show a controlled explosion of unexploded ammunition — which in itself could have been a legitimate mission for the soldiers.

He said he has known soldiers to joke around while conducting controlled explosions or during other such missions — but that it would be a serious matter if the soldiers needlessly blew up a family's home.

"If it's true that they did it just for fun, it is shameful for a military," he said. "It's not the usual conduct of Polish soldiers, who are doing a great job in Afghanistan. It would be embarrassing but it doesn't reflect the whole contingent."

Lukasiewicz said the incident probably happened in early spring.