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Australia: Troops carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan | Asia

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Four-year inquiry began after local media reported special forces had killed unarmed men and children.

Australia said on Thursday that its special forces had carried out 39 unlawful killings in Afghanistan, as it released a long-awaited report into alleged crimes committed by some members of its military in the South Asian nation.

Australia launched the inquiry in 2016, amid allegations by local media about the killing of unarmed men and children that the government initially tried to suppress.

Detailing the findings, General Angus John Campbell said the investigation found evidence that 25 members of the Australian special forces had killed prisoners, farmers or other civilians.

The report “found there to be credible information to substantiate 23 incidents of alleged unlawful killing of 39 people by 25 Australian special forces personnel predominantly from the Special Air Service Regiment,” Campbell told reporters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to respond to the findings later on Thursday, Last week he warned the report would contain “difficult and hard news for Australians”.

Reuters news agency reported Morrison had spoken to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani ahead of the release.

Australia said last week that it would appoint a special investigator to determine whether to go ahead with prosecutions.

The Australian military was deployed alongside forces from the United States and other allies in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In the years since, a series of often-harrowing reports have emerged about the conduct of its elite special forces units – ranging from a prisoner being shot dead to save space in a helicopter to the killing of a six-year-old child in a house raid.


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