WELLINGTON • Pressure mounted on the New Zealand government yesterday to call an inquiry into a botched special forces raid in Afghanistan that reportedly left six civilians dead, including a three- year-old child.
A book published this week alleges SAS troops staged the 2010 raid as a "revenge attack" after a New Zealand soldier was killed, but faulty intelligence meant they targeted villagers rather than insurgents. Hit And Run, written by journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, also claims the Wellington government and military covered up the failure, insisting no civilians died.
One of the centre-right National government's coalition partners, United Future, called for an investigation yesterday after several sources emerged to challenge the official version of events. "New Zealanders are rightly proud of the reputation of our SAS and armed forces generally, and do not wish to see that diminished, so they deserve open reassurance that our forces have not behaved inappropriately," United Future leader Peter Dunne said.
Amnesty International has also called for a probe while a team of New Zealand human rights lawyers announced yesterday that they were representing affected Afghan villagers and wanted an independent investigation.
Then-Defence Minister Wayne Mapp conceded for the first time this week that he knew as early as 2014 that civilians died in the raid. He told Newshub: "At the time of the attack, they (New Zealand forces) thought they were being attacked by insurgents."