July 12, 2017
Australian Special Forces are under a secret defense investigation for the unlawful killing of Afghan civilians, according to leaked documents, which provide new details of deadly incidents in southern Afghanistan.
Hundreds of pages of secret defense force documents — many marked AUSTEO (Australian Eyes Only) — have been leaked to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which has published them.
According to the leaked documents, the office of Inspector General of the Australian Defense Force (IGADF) began a wide-ranging inquiry last year into a large proportion of the documents that report on at least 10 incidents between 2009 and 2013 in which special forces killed civilians, including children.
One of the documents reports the purported deaths of an Afghan man and his six-year-old boy during a raid on a house in September 2013. Australian troops, who were looking for a target thought to be a Taliban member, allegedly shot and killed the child, who was hidden in blankets near the target, who was also killed.
The Inspector General’s inquiry into the killings found that there was not enough evidence to conclude that the target was actually a Taliban member or a militant at all.
Another incident that also purportedly occurred in September 2013 was the killing of an Afghan detainee, who was alone with an Australian soldier and was allegedly trying to seize his weapon.
The documents also provided reports into another 2013 incident in which Australian troops shot dead an Afghan man and woman riding a motorcycle.
An Australian soldier also purportedly cut off the hands of militants killed in an operation in the southern province of Zabul in April 2013. The soldier “severed a single hand” of a militant killed in the operation and then repeated those actions with two others, cutting off their right hands, according to the leaked documents.
The Australian Federal Police is also considering whether to investigate another incident in which a boy was shot dead in Kandahar Province in 2012. The shooting was covered up by Australian soldiers, the ABC reported.
Citing a source with knowledge of that incident, the ABC said Australian troops were moving through a remote area early in the morning when they shot the boy dead and left his body. According to the source, there was no obvious militant activity in the area at the time.
Australian forces have had active role in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.
British military forces, who were among the foreign forces mostly stationed in the southern Helmand Province, are also under investigation for the alleged killing of unarmed Afghan civilians.