Operation Burnham: Helicopter videos show men with weapons

4:11 pm on 28 June 2019

Footage from a controversial New Zealand-led raid in Afghanistan has been released publicly for the first time, showing helicopters firing on Afghan targets.

- One of the videos related to Operation Burnham was made available via a Freedom of Information Act (United States) request. Copyright: US Government

Other videos are available here. (None show casualties): https://www.nickyhager.info/foia/-

The United States government has released helicopter footage and redacted reports to Hit & Run co-author Nicky Hager - who has long claimed six civilians were killed and 15 injured in a botched SAS-led operation which is now subject to a government inquiry.

The material was declassified by the US, following a request under the United States Freedom of Information Act, and a court case.

It includes 87 partially-redacted pages of reports and three video clips.

The infrared video from two US apache helicopters shows three men, who are not visibly armed, being shot by exploding rounds while climbing a hill above village Khak Khuday Dad.

An earlier clip shows two men carrying weapons - what appear to be a rifle and a rocket propelled grenade launcher - when coming out of a building that is said to have included a woman.

Mr Hager said the video also showed shots being fired on a man as he headed back towards the village, where women and children were "clearly present".

"The supposed 'armed group' turns out to be two people with weapons.

"This is not what it was made out to be. They do not look or act like insurgents, more like farmers helping to hide two weapons left in the family home of a real (but absent) insurgent", he said.

Mr Hager says he has repeatedly tried to get clarification from the New Zealand Defence Force on how many armed people were seen in this video.

"I grew increasingly suspicious because no matter how I asked the question, they wouldn't give an answer. They gave replies like "a number". Now we know why. Because two people isn't an armed group and certainly isn't enough people to launch an armed attack on the SAS and the US airforce from the side of a bare hill", Mr Hager said.

Mr Hager says the NZDF had claimed it was impossible to release this information to the public.

However, it has issued a statement saying that it "sought permission from the US Government to release the Apache camera foootage, but the request was formally declined on the basis that the material remained classified at the time".

The NZDF said it has previously received and provided the Operation Burnham Inquiry a classified version of all the material it had, including the Apache camera footage.

"It should be noted that the material released today is only a very small part of the material that the NZDF has passed to the Inquiry.

"The Inquiry will make its determination based on all the evidence", the statement said.

A spokesperson for the US Embassy has confirmed that further footage relevant to Operation Burnham remained unavailable for public release due to the concerns wider dissemination may undermine future operations.

The Inquiry has determined that it will not be making the video clips available on its website.

In a minute, Sir Terence Arnold and Sir Geoffrey Palmer noted their concerns about having the footage freely available.

"On the villagers' account of what happened on the Operation, one of the videos shows their friends, relatives and/or neighbours being killed or wounded by helicopter fire.

"On NZDF's account, the relevant clip shows insurgents being killed or wounded, but even on that basis there would still be an issue as to whether, in the current climate, the Inquiry should be facilitating the public availability of footage showing people, particularly people of Muslim faith, being killed or wounded.

"There is obviously a risk that the footage might be misused".

This latest revelation about Operation Burnham comes after Hit & Run co-author Jon Stephenson said last week that Taliban insurgents had confirmed they were in the area when SAS troops led the raid on two Afghan villages.

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