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The allegations made against the NZ SAS

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/03/2017

War correspondent Jon Stephenson and investigative journalist Nicky Hager have made a series of allegations that New Zealand SAS soldiers were involved in the killing of civilians during a revenge raid on two Afghan villages. The claims are the basis of their new book, Hit and Run, released on Tuesday. So what exactly is being alleged?

THE ALLEGATIONS MADE BY STEPHENSON AND HAGER:

* New Zealand SAS forces planned and carried out a raid on two Afghan villages in August 2010.

* The raid was a retaliation following the death of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell who was killed by a roadside bomb on August 3, 2010.

* New Zealand SAS troops, Afghan commandos and two US helicopters were involved.

* Then prime minister John Key gave the operation the green light after a briefing from then Defence Force Chief Jerry Mateparae and then defence minister Wayne Mapp.

* During the raids six civilians were killed and 15 injured.

* Most died as a result of shots fired from the helicopters while two died from other gunshots, possibly fired by SAS snipers on the ground.

* None of the insurgents being targeted were killed.

* A video described to the authors, but not seen by them, reportedly showed the whole insurgent group at a funeral for the dead villagers days later.

* A fighter, captured in Kabul, was beaten by an SAS trooper and transferred to Afghan secret police who tortured him.

HOW THEY'RE BACKING THEIR CLAIMS:

* The pair claim they have more than three dozen sources, including SAS members involved in the mission.

* Interviews with Afghan sources confirming the civilian deaths.

THE RESPONSE AT THE TIME:

* NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in the days after the raid 12 insurgents were killed and numerous weapons recovered. It said "no civilians were injured or killed during this operation".

* In 2011 the New Zealand Defence Force issued a statement saying nine, not 12, insurgents had been killed.

* It maintained no civilians were killed and a joint Afghan and coalition force investigation at the time concluded allegations of civilian casualties were unfounded.

* Then defence minister Wayne Mapp said in 2011 he was satisfied claims around civilian casualties had been investigated and proven false.

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