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Hager's book `misses the mark': Brownlee

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/03/2017

Gerry Brownlee © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Gerry Brownlee Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says allegations made in the book Hit and Run that SAS soldiers were involved in the killing of civilians in Afghanistan have already been widely investigated.

"Those accusations have not been proved at all accurate - quite the opposite," he told the New Zealand Herald.

"There have been several investigations including by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) itself and the allegations that are made simply have not been substantiated in any way whatsoever."

Mr Brownlee has just left Iraq with Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

A Herald journalist was with them on the trip, kept secret for security reasons.

The book was co-authored by investigative journalist Nicky Hager and war correspondent Jon Stephenson.

It alleges six civilians were killed and 15 injured when an operation led by the SAS went wrong in August 2010.

The book says none of the targeted insurgents were killed.

"Mr Hager has written a book with the intention of selling it," Mr Brownlee said.

"It's election year, it shouldn't surprise anyone that he has brought out a book that is designed to cause a degree of trouble - but this time, I've got to say, he has totally missed the mark again."

Lieut-Gen Keating strongly defended the SAS against the allegations.

He said his staff had so far found nothing in the book that would require re-investigation.

"So there had better be some really good hard evidence that says that we - as I believe a connotation here - are guilty of war crimes."

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