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NZ SAS Confirms Afghan Gunfight

Last updated 15:53 14/01/2011

Kiwi SAS soldiers returned fire, killing two Afghan security guards in an Christmas Eve attack while they were on a mission to prevent a rocket attack on the US embassy in Kabul.

A NATO-led investigation by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) into the firefight was today released by the defence force.

In the incident, a joint New Zealand and Afghan operation was sent at short notice by ISAF leadership to act on intelligence about an imminent rocket or explosives attack on the US Embassy in Kabul.

"The video imagery has captured the heat plumes from weapons as they are fired," Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae said today.

"It clearly shows the New Zealanders came under fire from an Afghan 'security guard' and that the New Zealanders only returned fire in self defence because they were at risk of death or serious injury. The guard was wounded during the exchange of fire and then retreated into a nearby building."

Lt Gen Mateparae said the video went on to show two further Afghan security guards armed with AK 47 weapons running into a compound and taking up firing positions metres away from the Kiwi soldiers.

"The New Zealand forces yelled a command for the Afghans to stop. Because they were in immediate danger they then returned fire at the two Afghan security guards, which resulted in their deaths. The video imagery shows what appears to be a heat plume coming from one of the security guards weapons, indicating that at least one of them opened fire at close range on the New Zealanders before they returned the fire."

The Kiwi soldiers cleared nearby buildings after the exchange and a NZSAS medical officer gave medical treatment to the wounded Afghans. The weapons of both the dead Afghan guards were found to be loaded with a round chambered in each weapon, which Lt Gen Mateparae said showed they were ready to open fire on the Kiwis.

The Kiwi soldiers had also found items consistent with the intelligence that had suggested an imminent attack on the US embassy.

Lt Gen Mateparae said the ISAF report had cleared the New Zealand soldiers of any wrong-doing.

While there had been varying accounts of the incident, the video footage showed the Kiwis were attacked first in the incident.

The video footage would not be released, but Lt Gen Mateparae said he had seen it and agreed with the ISAF conclusions. The Kiwi soldiers had carried out the operation appropriately, he said.

"Having reviewed the circumstances I am satisfied that members of the NZSAS responded with discipline, professionalism and courage to the threats they faced," he said.

Click to view image: 'Willie Apiata'

Added: Jan-14-2011 Occurred On: Jan-14-2011
By: bravo61
Middle East
Tags: Afghanistan, New Zealand, ISAF, Kabul, NZSAS, Kiwis, US Embassy
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