No Hit & Run raid inquiry despite dead girl's parents' demand
The Government won't start an inquiry into a raid by SAS soldiers in Afghanistan, despite the pleas from parents who say their girl was killed during the operation.
Their daughter Fatima's death was revealed in the book Hit & Run, which said New Zealand special forces led a raid targeting insurgents who had killed a Kiwi soldier from the Bamyan-based Provincial Reconstruction Team.
The parents had spoken of their heartbreak at Fatima's death. They had been calling for an inquiry into what happened during the incident in August 2010, which was the subject of the book.
But when asked on the campaign trail, Prime Minister Bill English said the Government had not changed its position on an inquiry.
English had rejected calls for a probe into the raid earlier this year after being briefed by Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Tim Keating.
However Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was open to the possibility: "We've always maintained that given that there was so much uncertainty around the Defence Force's response that Hit & Run was something that should be inquired into properly".
'A REAL SWEETHEART'
"When I see the picture, I feel like my heart is exploding," her father says, as he glances at a photograph of three-year-old Fatima. "She was not just a daughter, she had become a real sweetheart."
Hit & Run, by Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager, said United States Apache helicopters under the direction of an SAS officer fired upon homes in the remote villages in the Tirgiran Valley in a raid called Operation Burnham.
It said an SAS trooper on the ground also shot one young man who was fleeing the scene.
It also said no insurgents were killed - instead, six civilians died and another 15 were wounded. Details of the raid had been covered up, the book said.
After the release of the book in March, Keating confirmed Operation Burnham had taken place.
But he disputed key facts, saying the location of the attack named in the book was wrong, and that nine people - not six - had been killed, and that they were insurgents.
He did acknowledge that civilians may have been killed, due to a malfunction in the helicopter weapons system, but said this had not been confirmed.
The Defence Force had previously said allegations of civilian deaths were "unfounded".
* Afghanistan interviews arranged by Jon Stephenson, associate producer of The Valley.
- Stuff Circuit