New footage shows Operation Burnham was 'not what it was made out to be', says Nicky Hager

Warning: This video contains footage that may disturb some viewers.

New footage released by the US military shows the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) were aware of a civilian presence in a village upon which an attack was launched during Operation Burnham.

NZDF had claimed this evidence was impossible to release to the public. 

On Friday journalist Nicky Hager released the footage which had been declassified and sent to him by the US military after a Freedom of Information Act request made by Hager and the villagers' lawyer, Deborah Manning.

It includes reports and exhibits from a US military inquiry held into civilian casualties during Operation Burnham. NZDF has never admitted the existence of this inquiry.

The footage is from an Apache helicopter manned by US military personnel who were following orders from NZ SAS on the ground. 

"The material gives a graphic and upsetting picture of a US helicopter gunship firing into a civilian village in which frightened women and children were seen running and huddling in groups," said Hager on Friday.

He says the NZ SAS knew about the large number of civilians in the area but never admitted to it.

One video released on Friday shows a clearly unarmed and wounded person stumbling. The helicopter then fires an incendiary shot which causes flames to erupt around the person. 

Hager says the NZ SAS knew about the civilian injuries and did not offer medical assistance. 

The New Zealand Defence Force said material released today was only a small part of material that NZDF had already given to the Operation Burnham inquiry.

"The NZDF has provided thousands of items to the Inquiry including up to eight hours of near continuous Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) footage from Operation Burnham, and all the Apache camera footage it has in its possession."

NZDF said the video release today showed armed insurgents in and around the village and is consistent with other evidence NZDF has given to the Inquiry.

However, Hager says this footage proves the opposite.

"The supposed 'armed group' turns out to be two people with weapons," said Hager.

"This is not what it was made out to be. They do not look or act like insurgents, more like farmers helping to hide two weapons left in the family home of a real (but absent) insurgent," he continued.

 Hager says NZDF were never clear about how many insurgents were in the "armed group" of insurgents, and the release of this footage proves there were never enough insurgents present to merit the attack.

"Thus one of the remaining mysteries about the SAS raid seems to be solved."