Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Australia’s elite special forces probed over potential unlawful killings : leaked docs

Australian elite special forces are under investigation for the possible unlawful killings of civilians in Afghanistan, including of a six-year-old child, according to leaked government documents. The papers also reveal details of a hand-severing incident involving the SAS.

Details of the killings are included in leaked Australian Defence Force documents totalling hundreds of pages, many of which were marked “AUSTEO” (Australian Eyes Only).

The documents were leaked exclusively to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and have been referred to as “The Afghan Files” by the news outlet.

At least two of the potentially unlawful killing incidents are being investigated by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force, as part of a wider probe into the conduct of special forces in Afghanistan.

One of those incidents involves the deaths of a man and his six-year-old child during a raid. The Afghan boy was hidden in blankets near a target sought by Australian troops, thought to be a Taliban member. Australian forces managed to kill their target, but also inadvertently killed the child with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. The child’s family received a compensation payment of US$1,500.

An inquiry found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the alleged Taliban target was actually part of the group, or an insurgent at all. However, it also concluded that the Australian soldiers had fired in self-defense and exercised appropriate restraint. The case has been referred to the Inspector General’s inquiry.

Another case mentioned is the killing of a detainee who was alone with an Australian soldier and allegedly tried to seize his weapon.

Both of the incidents being investigated occurred in September 2013.

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