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Operation Burnham inquiry: Senior military official 'misled'

Operation Burnham inquiry: Senior military official says he may have been purposely misled
5:02 pm on 17 September 2019
Jonathan Mitchell, Defence Reporter

A senior military official says he could have been purposely misled by an American official about casualties after a raid in Afghanistan.

The Operation Burnham inquiry is investigating allegations in the book Hit and Run, pictured here. Photo: supplied

The Operation Burnham inquiry is investigating allegations in the book Hit and Run that six civilians were killed during a New Zealand-led raid in 2010, and what happened was covered up.

Brigadier Christopher Parsons, who was in Afghanistan, said a US military official who showed him a paragraph from a report said there were no civilian casualties.

He reported that back to New Zealand.

"It categorically clears both ground and air call signs of any allegations - it states that having reviewed the evidence, there is no way that 'civcavs' (civilian casualties) could have occurred," he said.

Brigadier Parsons said it was possible he was purposely misled, or the US official misinterpreted the question because other parts of the report - which he wasn't shown - mentioned the possibility of civilian deaths.

Colonel Rian McKinstry, who was a senior national officer, said there were numerous reports of casualties after the raid that needed to be verified.

He said that included one that suggested 20 houses had been destroyed and killed civilians.

Colonel McKinstry read from an email exchange at today's [17 September] hearing.

"The sense of relief that I describe in this email came from the realisation that if there had been any civilian casualties it was due to an accident that was completely beyond our control," he said.

Colonel McKinstry said the casualty reports needed to assessed properly because they came from a range of sources.

The hearing continues.

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