Evidence mounts of a mass shooting of Afghan civilians by Australian soldiers
Australian special forces killed up to 10 unarmed Afghan civilians during a 2012 raid in Kandahar Province, ABC Investigations can reveal. The raid is believed to be the worst one-day death toll uncovered to date of alleged unlawful killings by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Afghan witnesses and Australian sources have told the ABC that the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) operation left a number of Taliban dead. But both say civilians were also shot during the frenzied raid, including a group of unarmed villagers near a tractor.
Australian sources confirmed a number of civilians were killed that day, but could not determine the precise number, telling the ABC there were up to 10 suspicious killings with another five Taliban dead.
ABC Investigations has obtained a list of names of 11 civilians that the villagers of Sara Aw say were killed in the December 2012 operation led by Zulu 1 and Zulu 2 patrols of the SAS.
The SAS was accompanied by Afghan special forces known as the Wakunish. “It was 11:00am, three [helicopters] landed,” said farmer Mohammad Nassim. “There were three Taliban in nomad houses [near the village]. They resisted and were killed. But then they killed other people — civilians.
“Civilians were terrified when the shooting started, because they were mass shooting people,” he said. Villager Rahmatullah confirmed that three Taliban were hiding in a nearby nomad hut. “But no-one [from the village] knew they were there,” he said.
“They started resisting [the soldiers], then people learnt that they were killed. The rest of [those killed] were all civilians. One was Mohammad Azam, my brother.”
Villagers killed while transporting onions
ABC Investigations has been told by sources that the Taliban fighters were killed by the Zulu 2 patrol and weapons were recovered.
But a number of civilians were then killed near a tractor in what appears to be a mass shooting.
This account is backed by villagers interviewed separately by an Afghan journalist engaged by ABC Investigations who travelled to Sara Aw.
Abdul Qadus says his brother Abdul Salim was driving the tractor when he was shot dead.
“At the time he was carrying a load of onions, he was taking them to the city. There were some other people with him as well,” Abdul Qadus said.
“The two other people who were near the Taliban in the area, I saw them being shot and killed and they didn’t have anything with them. “Another one was my cousin who was sitting and packing onions when they shot and killed him there.”