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Defence Force rejects call for inquiry

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/03/2017

The Defence Force isn't going to hold an inquiry into allegations New Zealand's SAS soldiers killed six civilians and wounded 15 during raids in Afghanistan in 2010.

The allegations are in a book, Hit and Run, launched in Wellington on Tuesday.

It's authors, investigative journalist Nicky Hager and war correspondent Jon Stephenson, say they were approached by soldiers involved in the raids who said there were grounds to believe they had been involved in war crimes.

They want an inquiry, but on Tuesday night the Defence Force said that wasn't going to happen.

It referred to a statement it issued in 2011 which said that following the operation allegations of civilian casualties were made.

"These were investigated by a joint Afghan Ministry of Defence, Ministry of the Interior and International Security Assistance Force assessment team, in accordance with ISAF procedures," it said.

"The investigation concluded that the allegations of civilian casualties were unfounded."

The Defence Force said it didn't undertake investigations or inquiries into the actions of forces from other nations - "that was the role of the joint Afghan-ISAF investigation".

The SAS troops are reported to have led the raids, and soldiers from other nations took part.

They were in response to the death of New Zealand soldier Tim O'Donnell, killed by a roadside bomb.

According to the book, no insurgents were killed in the raids on two villages and one of the dead was a three-year-old girl.

The authors also claim the SAS knew "within a shadow of a doubt" a day or two later that none of the insurgents they had targeted were dead.

They were captured in a video, described to them by sources, attending the funerals of the civilians killed.

Mr Stephenson alleges the events that followed the raid were either "incompetence at a biblical level or there's been one hell of a deliberate cover-up".

But where any cover-up would have stemmed from is not clear.

Mr Hager says there are two possibilities.

"One is the government has been misleading the public but the other is the government has not been told the truth by our military, which is also very serious," he said.

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