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Confusion over location of Afghan villages

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/03/2017

The authors of the book Hit and Run are still convinced they correctly identified two villages raided by the SAS, but concede they might have got the location wrong.

Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson claim in their book, launched last week, that six civilians were killed and 15 wounded when SAS troops backed by US helicopter gunships attacked the villages of Khak Khuday Dad and Naik in Afghanistan in 2010.

The chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, said on Monday the SAS never visited those villages but did carry out an attack on Tirgiran village, more than two kilometres away, where nine insurgents were killed.

He admitted it was possible civilians were killed when a helicopter gun malfunctioned and rounds fell short, hitting a building where insurgents and possibly civilians were.

The Defence Force released a graphic clearly showing the villages identified in the book and the site of the SAS operation

The authors said on Wednesday confusion over the location of the villages shouldn't detract from the civilian casualties.

"We have the right villages but it seems the slightly wrong location," they said in a statement.

"The Defence Force has the wrong village name but the right location - this is unfortunately not surprising in an isolated area of mountains with no roads or detailed maps."

Lawyers representing the villagers created more confusion on Wednesday by saying Tirgiran was the name of a valley region, not a village.

"For the NZDF to claim that an operation occurred in `Tirgiran village' is akin to claiming an operation took place in 'Otago city'," they said.

Prime Minister Bill English has ruled out investigating allegations of war crimes but is still taking advice on whether other issues should be investigated.

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