14 Mar 2018

NZDF admits Hit & Run had photos of village attacked by SAS

12:03 am on 14 March 2018

A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) report has admitted that photographs in the controversial book Hit and Run are of an Afghan village the SAS attacked in 2010.

Investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson have released a book, 'Hit & Run', about the New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan.

The book, 'Hit and Run'. Photo: RNZ / Hans Weston

But the report has denied claims that civilians were killed, saying one man identified as an insurgent was shot dead. It said only two shots were fired during the entire operation.

However, Defence Force Chief Tim Keating has previously conceded civilians may have been killed by mistake after rounds fired by an American Apache helicopter fell short, hitting a building where villagers could have been.

Hit and Run, written by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, alleged six civilians were killed and 15 injured in a raid on two Afghan villages in 2010 by New Zealand's elite soldiers and that the Defence Force subsequently covered that up.

Lt-Gen Keating last year said the raid on Tirgiran, the name used by the NZDF for the location of the raid, was in significantly different terrain from the one in the book.

But, the NZDF report now confirms three photographs in Hit and Run show Tirgiran village.

Mr Hager said Lt-Gen Keating had tried to divert attention by claiming the book did not get the location correct.

"I believe that the impulse to hide the NZDF's mistakes led the Chief of Defence Force knowingly to mislead the media and the public," he said.

The Defence Force "jumped on" an error in illustrations, which incorrectly marked the location of the raid in the mountains, Mr Hager said.

A new edition of the book corrected that.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last month asked Attorney-General David Parker to look into the book's claims and the government has said it would make an announcement soon on whether to convene an independent inquiry.

The previous government refused to launch an independent inquiry into the book's claims, saying there was no evidence of war crimes.

In opposition, Labour said an independent inquiry was necessary.

Meanwhile, 4000 signatories have supported a call for an independent inquiry into the NZSAS raid on the village.

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