Hit and Run vs the Defence Force: What you need to know
The New Zealand Defence Force and authors Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager in their book Hit and Run make a number of varying claims about what happened during Operation Burnham in Afghanistan in August 2010.
What was the raid called and when did it happen?
- Both the NZDF and the book say the raid Operation Burnham was carried out in Afghanistan on August 22, 2010
Where did it take place?
- The NZDF says the raid took place in the village of Tirgiran in Baghlan Province
- The book alleges the raids occurred 2km north in the villages of Naik and Khak Khuday Dad
- Hager and Stephenson have since conceded the NZDF might be right about the location of the raids, but claim the village names are correct
What was the basis?
- Both the NZDF and the book say the raid targeted Taliban insurgent leaders responsible for the death of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, who was killed by a roadside bomb in nearby Bamyan Province
- The NZDF says it was based on sound intelligence
- The book claims forces were not sure the intelligence was reliable
Was it revenge?
- The New Zealand Defence Force says the raid was not revenge
- The book claims the raid was in retaliation for Lt O'Donnell's death
Who was involved?
- SAS ground forces were supported by coalition air forces, under the command of a New Zealand SAS commander
- The book claims SAS ground forces were supported by local Afghan forces and two US Apache helicopter helicopters, under the command of the SAS
Were insurgents killed?
- The NZDF says nine insurgents were killed
- The book claims no insurgents were killed
Were civilians killed?
- The NZDF admits there may have been civilian casualties when a gun misfired, shots fell short and hit a building where there were known insurgents and possible civilians
- Locals told an Afghan governor six civilians had been killed - four adult males, an adult female and a six-year-old girl
- The book claims six civilians were killed - five men and a three-year-old girl. It also says 15 were wounded
How did the deaths occur?
- The NZDF says ground forces fired two single rounds, both hitting and killing one insurgent. Air forces targeted insurgents on the ground, killing eight
- The book claims four civilians were killed by aircraft fire and two were killed by NZ SAS ground forces
How were homes destroyed in the raids?
- The NZDF says two dwellings caught fire while weapons and ammunition including rocket propelled grenades found during a search were being destroyed outside
- The book claims the houses were deliberately destroyed, including being targeted by rockets
How is the operation outcome regarded?
- Defence Force Chief Lieutenant General Tim Keating says the conduct of Kiwi forces was "exemplary"
- The book claims then defence minister Wayne Mapp described the operation to a friend as a "fiasco"
- Dr Mapp has not denied the comment, later saying "one of the disasters of war is these terrible things can happen"
Does there need to be an inquiry?
- Lt-Gen Keating says he has no personal problem with an inquiry but "legally it would be a bit of a challenge" to convince people to give evidence
- The book claims a full and independent inquiry is necessary to determine exactly what occurred and the extent of any cover-up
- Demand for an inquiry has been supported by Deborah Manning - a lawyer representing the Afghan villagers
- Prime Minister Bill English says he won't be rushed into an inquiry
- Dr Mapp says there does not necessarily need to be an independent inquiry.