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Protesters block SAS over Afghan claims

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/04/2017

Protesters have chained the gates of a Defence Force SAS base outside Auckland calling for troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan following allegations forces were involved in the deaths of six civilians in 2010.

Auckland Peace Action group members have covered six mannequins in white sheets outside the gates of the Papakura base that they say represent the villagers killed in raids on Naik and Kak Khudad Dad.

Claims of those civilian deaths were made in the book Hit and Run, by war correspondent Jon Stephenson and investigative reporter Nicky Hager.

Prime Minister Bill English on Monday said there won't be an investigation into the book's claims because he doesn't believe there was evidence Afghan villagers died during the operation.

The NZDF say they were never in those villages and that Operation Burnham, which happened about two kilometres away, resulted in nine insurgents being killed.

It has acknowledged there may have been civilian casualties because of a helicopter gun fault.

APA spokeswoman Virginia Lambert said the protest was to show Mr English and the NZDF that New Zealanders won't allow the matter to be swept under the carpet.

She wants an inquiry but says that is not enough.

"New Zealand troops must be withdrawn immediately from Afghanistan," she said.

The government last year committed troops to remain in Afghanistan until 2018.

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