Top level silence so far on Nicky Hager's claim SAS raids killed civilians in Afghanistan

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1 NEWS

The Prime Minister, Defence Minister and NZDF are yet to respond to claims in a just-released book by investigative journalists Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson that New Zealand's SAS troops were involved in a raid in Afghanistan in which six civilians were killed and 15 injured.

Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson uncover truth about fatal Afghanistan raid involving Kiwi troops in new book.
Source: 1 NEWS

The book called Hit & Run also claims then prime minister John Key, two different defence ministers and military officials all denied civilian casualties between 2010 and 2014.

A New Zealand soldier, Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, was killed in an incident in Afghanistan in August 2010.

The allegation by Hager and Stephenson is that 19 days after that, SAS troops conducted a raid effectively in retaliation for that to try and find the insurgents responsible. 

The authors say the raids in two villages went horribly wrong and that a number of civilians were killed including a small child. 

They have a list of the names in the book, and at its launch in Wellington this evening, Hager described the night when the SAS troops conducted the raid.

"In the ghastly few hours after midnight the next morning, after those briefings and the approval from Wellington, the SAS troops attacked the villages which were largely full of children, their parents and elderly people, including heavy fire from the attack helicopters. Twenty-one people were injured and killed - six killed, 15 injured," Hager said.

Hit and Run has been co-written with war writer Jon Stephenson.
Source: 1 NEWS

The authors allege this was covered up and that then prime minister John Key signed off the raid by telephone from a call made from the Bamiyan province.

Mr Key had not had a chance this evening to formally respond to the allegations, but in an interview earlier today ahead of his valedictory speech to Parliament tomorrow, he was asked what he thought of another book coming from Nicky Hager.

"To be blunt, I mean Nicky Hager is a left wing conspiracy theorist. He sees shadows everywhere," Mr Key replied. 

"Goodness knows what tonight's book will be about, but it'll be some fantastic collection of sort of great theories that he's got. Truth is they generally don't stack up."

1 NEWS political editor Corin Dann says the book and its launch at 5pm is typical of the way Hager tends to operate.

"He hasn't been to the Defence Force nor to the Government to get a response because he feels if he did they would try and stymie this story," Dann said. 

"We have not had the chance either to try and get a response from them given the time frame around that. That is the way Nicky Hager has done his books in the past," he told 1 NEWS at 6pm.

Hager and Stephenson are not necessarily arguing a war crime was committed by New Zealand soldiers but that there may be grounds for that, and they're calling for an investigation, Dann reported.

It's expected Prime Minister Bill English will be required to answer questions about this and that the Defence Force will also be answering some tough questions over coming days, our political editor said.

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