February 26, 2009

The US defence department has lifted a ban on news organisations showing pictures of the coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Defence Secretary Robert Gates said photographs of the flag-draped caskets of US war dead being returned home will be allowed if their families agree.

The move overturns a ban put in place by President George Bush Snr in 1991.

Critics said the ban tried to hide the human cost of the two wars, in which nearly 5,000 US soldiers have died.

“The decision regarding media coverage of the dignified transfer process at Dover [Air Force Base] should be made by those most directly affected, on an individual basis, by the families of the fallen,” Mr Gates said.

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