Latest news: Inquiry announcement

Approval for inquiry into Operation Burnham - Beehive


Below the Beltway: A week in politics - Stuff

The Hit & Run inquiry opens a can of worms - National Business Review

Defence minister says an inquiry into the NZDF is 'necessary' to set the record straight - Stuff

Inquiry into deadly NZ-led Afghanistan raid labelled a waste of taxypers’ money by National - TVNZ

Over three hours of aerial footage of Afghanistan raid exists, NZDF says - Stuff

Gordon Campbell on the Hit & Run inquiry - Werewolf

Nicky Hager 'over the moon' about govt inquiry into SAS - MSN

Tim Dower: When it comes to military operations, I'm taking the word of our guys - NZ Herald

The Bulletin: Long awaited Hit and Run inquiry launched - The Spinoff

Hit & Run: Hager, Stephenson welcome inquiry - RNZ

Inquiry already prejudiced, say Hit & Run authors - NZ Herald

Barry Soper: Little doubt in what SAS inquiry will come up with - NZ Herald

Jon Stephenson: Parker's comments are completely ill-advised - Newstalk ZB

Missing the target: The Government inquiry into Afghanistan raid - Stuff

Government to hold inquiry on Operation Burnham after allegations in book Hit & Run - TVNZ

Author Jon Stephenson pleased with inquiry, but queries Govt 'muddying waters' - Stuff

Hit & Run: Govt launches inquiry, but notes video footage conflicts with book's account - NZ Herald

Inquiry into SAS role in Afghan deaths - Otago Daily Times

Hager, Stephenson, Keating respond to Operation Burnham inquiry - YourNZ

Government announces Hit and Run probe - NZ City

Hit and Run: Government launches inquiry into alleged Afghan civilian deaths - Newshub

Hit and Run: Inquiry tipped into NZ SAS's role in deaths of six Afghan civilians - NZ Herald

Approval for Inquiry into Operation Burnham - Scoop

Government announces full inquiry into Afghanistan raid - Stuff

Government to hold inquiry on Operation Burnham after allegations in book Hit & Run - TVNZ

Govt to hold inquiry into Hit & Run claims - RNZ

Finally - No Right Turn

Inquiry launched into Hit and Run allegations - Newstalk ZB

Government announces Hit and Run probe - NZ Newswire

Live: Govt to announce whether or not inquiry will be held into Hit and Run SAS raid - Stuff

Hit and Run inquiry decision welcomed

Media release 11 April 2018

Nicky Hager has welcomed the announcement today of an independent inquiry into civilian casualties during the August 2010 NZSAS raid in Afghanistan – Operation Burnham – the subject of the 2017 book Hit and Run.

“This is very, very good news for New Zealand,” he said. “It is vital that, as a country, we can face up to incidents where our military does terrible things.”

He said good people have been chosen for the inquiry, the terms of reference are broad and resources have been allocated so it can do a proper job. “It feels like the start of a sound and thorough process.”

“There have been years of cover up by the NZSAS and senior military staff ever since the raid – intended for insurgents – killed and wounded 21 civilians, most of them women and children. Even after we wrote a whole book setting out what had happened, the New Zealand Defence Force continued its denials. It is an intolerable situation when the military tries to cover up its own misdeeds.”

“The obvious answer was an independent inquiry and so we warmly welcome today's announcement.”

“International law says that countries have a legal obligation to conduct an independent inquiry whenever there are credible allegations of civilian casualties. The New Zealand Defence Force and government refused to do this for seven years. At last another government is doing the right thing.”

For more information, contact Nicky Hager 04 3845074

Latest news: April 2018

Latest news: March 2018


Defence Force admits SAS Afghan raid WAS in the same location as events in Hit and Run

The New Zealand Defence Force has admitted that the photographs of an Afghan village shown in the book Hit and Run – the site where six civilians were killed and 15 civilians seriously injured during an NZSAS raid – are indeed the same place where the SAS conducted a raid that night.

When the book Hit and Run was published in March last year, the Chief of Defence Force Tim Keating held a press conference claiming that the book had nothing to do with the New Zealand SAS because the SAS had been in a different place on that date.

In response to questions from reporters, Keating said:

It’s irrefutable that we operated in a different area to the claims of the book” and

it’s not on an operation the NZSAS conducted.”

Understandably, the public and the journalists were left confused about who was telling the truth.

Now, a year later, the Ombudsman has ordered the Defence Force to release more information, including on the subject of whether the photos in the book were the same location where the NZSAS was operating that night (22 August 2010). The Defence Force has finally admitted that the “three photographs in the book are of Tirgiran Village”, the NZDF's name for the place where the SAS conducted the raid.

Hit and Run co-author Nicky Hager said the Chief of Defence Force Tim Keating had tried to divert attention away from the issue of civilian casualties by claiming the book was not about a raid the SAS had conducted.

“It was simply a diversion. This seems extremely unprofessional behaviour from a senior military officer,” Mr Hager said. “I believe that the impulse to hide the NZDF's mistakes led the Chief of Defence Force knowingly to mislead the media and the public.”

The NZDF had jumped on an error in two of the book's illustrations, which marked the location of the raid incorrectly in the roadless mountains. But the rest of the book – the text, the photos and the lists of casualties – was correct. Mr Hager publicly acknowledged the map error and a new edition of the book was published soon after with the illustration errors corrected. But the Defence Force continued to use the map error to say that the whole book was wrong.

The Defence Force released the new information in response to Official Information Act requests by Mr Hager and four others which have been investigated for months by the Ombudsman's office. Apart from the admission about the photos, very little new information has been provided by the Defence Force. Instead the Defence Force “information pack” presents its alternative version of what happened in Operation Burnham, largely unsupported by any documentation:

For more information: contact Nicky Hager 04 3845074

Nicky Hager Media Release: Defence Force had reports of civilian casualties after SAS raid but did nothing

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.