The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) received intelligence updates within one or two days of the August 2010 SAS raid in Afghanistan that reported civilian casualties, including the death of a child, new Official Information Act documents reveal. This is what was written in the book Hit and Run but the NZDF had denied the whole book.

Hit and Run co-author Nicky Hager, who has been probing the defence force using the Official Information Act (OIA), says this is an important crack in the NZDF denials.

The 13 February 2018 NZDF OIA response admitted that five New Zealand military intelligence reports written after the SAS raid “mention the death of a child” and also injuries to a woman. The intelligence reports were dated 24 (two), 25 and 26 August 2010, the days following the 22 August 2010 raid, and 27 July 2011.*

The NZDF letter said the reports of civilian casualties were “unconfirmed” – but under international law and the NZDF’s own internal rules, the SAS should have thoroughly investigated any reports of civilian casualties during an operation that it had commanded. Instead, it appears they did not bother to investigate nor made any effort to help the victims.

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In contrast to the new admissions, the SAS in Afghanistan helped to write a International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) press release after the raid that said “No civilians were injured or killed during this operation .”

The following year, in April 2011, when rumours of the SAS raid reached the media in New Zealand, Defence issued a press release saying thatallegations of civilian casualties were “unfounded”. This is despite the civilian casualties being reported in the New York Times, local Afghan media and a UN report shortly after the raid and the Afghan government Independent Directorate of Local Government producing a full list of the names of the 21 dead and injured.

When Hit and Run was published in March 2017, naming and describing each of the 21 casualties, chief of defence force Tim Keating dismissed the whole book, saying “it’s not on an operation the NZSAS conducted”. As a backstop, he told journalists that “The official line is that civilian casualties may have occurred. But not corroborated.”

It is clear from the new information that the SAS had specific reports of the death of the child, whom we now know was a three-year old girl called Fatima, but that it chose not to try to corroborate the reports nor to make amends. Instead years of cover up began.

Mr Hager is now seeking full copies of the NZDF intelligence reports that will show exactly what the SAS said at the time.

* The OIA question asked “Did any post-activity reports from Operation Burnham refer to the death of a child? b) If yes, what was the title and date of the report(s)? c) And what action was taken to follow up the report or reports?” Following questions asked about injury to a woman and the death of an elderly man. The NZDF response confirmed injury to a woman but not the death of an elderly man.


  1. I remember John Key talking about revenging the death of the New Zealand soldier who was killed. And this was the root of the problem, the idea that somehow an injustice had been done. To the taliban, the soldier was part of the enemy military and they acted as all combatants do.

  2. We are a small country and many NZ’ers know someone from the NZDF who has been sworn to secrecy about what we did in Afghanistan.Truth is the daughter of time.

    Never let it be forgotten that John Key authorised that revenge raid. That Bill English viewed some NZDF film and Bill decided that there was nothing to see. That Wayne Mapp is known not to have been silenced.

    Only fools count on cover-ups – real men – apologies for the cliche – man up.

  3. Well who would any sane person believe not the NZ Defence Force. The sooner we have an open, transparent, full enquiry the better.

  4. Go you @ Nicky Hager!
    What frisson did psychopathic jonky get at the thought of being part of a killing by remote control?
    Power. A thrill of power would have been coursing through the weak little man.

  5. There’s not much doubt in my mind that “our boys” took part in a revenge raid and wreaked hell on Afghan villagers.
    The sooner this is owned up to and a proper review carried out the better.

  6. Let’s not forget that civilian casualties have resulted from wars throughout history. In the past it was much easy to cover up or simply not report such incidents. That doesn’t justify the event being dealt with here, but we must not think it is the first time something like this has happened.

    Perhaps my anscestors (and those of other readers) were involved in similar events during WW1 and WW2 or other conflicts. That isn’t a pleasant thought is it.

    • Yes, often civilian casualties, but these were all civilians, peasant farmers, who were terrorised by the NZDF, with not an insurgent or enemy soldier anywhere in sight, including someone’s little girl named after the daughter of Muhammad, whose father will be rising before dawn to pray for her for the rest of his life- if he has one.

      We had the opportunity to make amends here, and we didn’t; we had the opportunity to tend the injured here, and we didn’t; we had the opportunity to tell the truth, and we didn’t. But we still can, and should.

      • An that’s thing thing with incompetent leaders pretending to be a prime minister. They send soldiers and train them to do specific jobs only to find out that the Prime Minister (John Key) had bull shitted. I think it was a year into the afghan deployment that the reconstruction team got armoured cars so they were driving around in commercial 4×4 in an IED infested country. And I’m saying if you train people to kill and them put them in a situation where they don’t have the right tools then they will fall back on the there training the best way they know how. This is why these things should be debated in parliament always.

        • Debated in Parliament with the truth told-if poss- otherwise
          we run the risk of looking like more Christian westerners who don’t care about the blood of the innocent, and are no better than the Taliban in the eyes of those we wronged.

        • To Christine

          Years after the provincial reconstruction team pulled out of Afghanistan it’s only just coming to light that the reconstruction team was doing a lot more than was publicly told. That we were engaging locals in population suppression tactics and if they do that to us then the world is ending. But if we do stuff to them we don’t even talk about it. And I’ll get back around to this point.

          But defeated people are forced to look at what they are doing to us. There’s no doubt that the people who committed 9/11 are evil people but so was the 9/11 commission a total farce. From a legal or any other point of view western legal system is a total farce. It’s kind of interesting that no foreign or domestic terrorist actor friendly or not can be tried in open court. The way counter insurgency principles are conducted have to be decided when a crime committed is a war crime has to be committed by them not us. So kiwi soldiers are able to bring testimony from enemy insurgence saying yeah we did the same awful tactics and get off war crimes charges.

          Seeing the hurt on people’s faces as you kill there will to fight is racist fanaticism. And this is the embarrassing part because the pretext to these attacks was that the provincial reconstruction team might be attacked in the future.

          I don’t think it’s risky to do everything with in democratic means to exhaust all possible peaceful means before military force is employed.

          • Sorry to take so long replying Sam. Yes, 9/11 was a terrible evil, and we saw it played out and we saw real people falling to their deaths. Tirgiran Valley was precipitated by the tragic death of Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell and faulty intelligence. The maelstrom of emotion following Tim O’Donnell’s death, both among his mates, and the army family,must have been overwhelming. The army’s own Code of Conduct should have stopped some things from happening, but it didn’t.

            “Hit&Run’ introduces us to all the people involved, it shows us the local Afghani people as real people like us, like maybe some small town in rural NZ – but a lot poorer – and not just a bunch of foreigners over the other side of the world. It also documents the disquiet of at least one NZ military officer, that war crimes had been committed and no-one called to account.

            This just doesn’t make more enemies, it can be hard on the persons involved – veterans come home from wars, are often not well supported, sometimes they go up north and top themselves. They carry all the shadows.

            US General David Petraeus had already revised combat rules to reduce the loss of civilian life in Afghanistan, and had they been adhered to, then this may well have not happened. Hopefully no-one wants it to ever happen in this way again, and an inquiry may be the best way of ensuring this, who knows.

  7. While allowing gangs of Asin businessmen to trample on the rights and invade the lives of New Zealand citizens at home.

    “New Zealand: letting other countries call the shots at home
    And abroad for like ever”

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