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.


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 that allegations 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.

For more information, contact Nicky Hager, 04 3845074

* 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.

Latest news: December 2017

Moving on after FJK - The Standard

2017: Are we there yet? - RNZ


Unity Books in Wellington was a bunfight as journalists Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager released their book, Hit & Run, which claimed six civilians were killed in a raid on two Afghan villages involving New Zealand's SAS in 2010. The claims were, predictably, denied by both the government and the defence force, although an ex-defence minister said he believed that civilians were killed. Calls for a government inquiry were steadfastly ignored."

10 biggest NZ political scandals and scams of 2017 - The Daily Blog

It is alleged with clear precision that John Key green lighted  a revenge mission for the death of a NZ SAS soldier and because it was poorly planned and knee-jerk we have targeted and destroyed 12 houses, killed 6 innocent civilians (including a school teacher and a child) and seriously injured 15 others.... NZDF realised that the raid had gone wrong but instead covered it up and lied to media about what actually happened.

Defence Minister plots a war on climate change - Newsroom

Mark says the Government is yet to make a decision on whether to hold an inquiry into allegations of war crimes in [Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s book] Hit and Run (“We have been very busy with the 100-day programme, there will be an opportunity when the Prime Minister’s diary is a little bit clearer to sit down and discuss it”), but it’s clear he personally feels no desire to start an investigation.

“I have absolute confidence in the men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force...they’re good people who live by the highest standards in terms of their ethics and morality, who are highly professional, highly capable, good people.”

The 10 best-selling books of 2017 at Unity Books, Auckland - The Spinoff

[Hit and Run] remains a strong, powerful piece of investigative reporting by our two most distinguished independent journalists.


Latest news: November 2017

Statement from Jon Stephenson

Hit and Run co-author Jon Stephenson has put out the following statement in response to the Government's plan to investigate Operation Burnham:

"I am encouraged by the prime minister’s promise to look into the allegations that civilians were killed and wounded in the 2010 SAS-led raid known as Operation Burnham. 

However, it is essential that any inquiry that is ordered be conducted by an independent authority and not by the New Zealand Defence Force. It is also important that any inquiry be adequately resourced and that its terms of reference enable a credible and thorough investigation.

Several of my sources, who were involved in Operation Burnham and subsequent events, have confirmed that they are prepared to give evidence on oath at any such inquiry. They are confident that an independent and impartial investigation will substantiate the claims of civilian deaths and injuries.

I am also confident that an independent and impartial inquiry will confirm that a New Zealand SAS trooper physically abused a blindfolded and flexi-tied detainee, that this detainee was then transferred to known torturers who proceeded to torture him, and that the NZDF knew about this and covered it up."

Hit and Run review: Chris Pugsley

Chris Pugsley, military historian and retired infantry officer reviewed Hit and Run in New Zealand Books with the following:

"Hit and Run is an important book, which raises uncomfortable questions that needed to be asked. On the balance of probabilities, the CDF's [Chief of Defence Force's] robust defence  does not stand up to scrutiny -- a New Zealand-led and controlled operation resulted in a large number of civilian casualties relative to the size of the rural hamlets involved. Our soldiers are well trained and professional, but that does not grant them infallibility -- in this case things appear to have gone badly wrong. I trust we learn from it."

Press release from Hit & Run Inquiry Campaign

Remember Fatima on 22 August: Inquiry into Afghan Deaths Now!

At 12:30pm on Tuesday 22 August, the Hit and Run Inquiry Campaign will hold a commemoration protest at the Wellington Cenotaph to remember Afghan civilians killed seven years ago during a New Zealand SAS-led raid in Baghlan Province Afghanistan. Fatima was one of those killed, at only three years of age.

“We’re holding this commemoration protest to remind the New Zealand government that justice will not be done until an independent inquiry is conducted into the events of the 22 August 2010,” says Marianne Elliott from Hit and Run Inquiry Campaign.

On 22 August 2010, after an NZ SAS-led raid on two Afghan villages looking for the insurgents responsible for the death of a New Zealand soldier, six Afghan civilians, including a three-year-old girl named Fatima, were dead. Seven years later New Zealanders are still not clear what was done in their name.

Earlier this year, the story was blown wide open by the release of Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson's book Hit & Run, which investigated the raid - Operation Burnham.

“We know New Zealanders value honesty, giving everyone a fair go and owning up to our mistakes. That’s why we’re asking our government to launch an investigation into the allegations against New Zealand Defence Forces, particularly the SAS. If we want to uphold New Zealand’s good international reputation, it is the right thing to do,” states Marianne Elliott.

Join the Hit and Run Inquiry Campaign at the Wellington Cenotaph Tuesday, 22 August 2017 at 12.30 pm to mark the seventh anniversary of Operation Burnham and to make our collective voice heard. 

Speakers on the day:

  • Nicky Hager
  • Marianne Elliott (ActionStation)
  • Barry Coates (the Green Party)
  • Peace Action Wellington

Media spokesperson: Marianne Elliott – phone: 021 110 6086

Event coordinator: Aida Tavassoli, Phone: 021 0866 9500

To know more about the Hit & Run Inquiry Campaign please visit our Facebook page:

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

A people’s campaign for an inquiry into allegations of the NZSAS killings of civilians in Afghanistan

Hit & Run Inquiry Campaign

Concerned members of the public have banded together to call on the government for an inquiry into the allegations in Hit and Run.

News of their efforts can be found here.

August 22nd will mark seven years since Operation Burnham and the raids on Khak Kuday Dad and Naik. A commemoration service will be held at the Wellington Cenotaph at 12.30pm. 

Additional information can be found here.

Latest news: August 2017