Defence Minister confirms lethal SAS counter attack in Afghanistan

TVNZ’s flagship political programme Q+A has learned New Zealand SAS troops carried out an attack in Afghanistan on the Taliban group believed to be responsible for the death of kiwi soldier, Tim O’Donnell.

The Lieutenant died on patrol in North East Bamiyan last August.  The SAS responded with a counter attack in Baghlan province in which 12 insurgents are thought to have died.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp confirmed the usually top secret information during a pre-recorded interview for Q+A that will go to air Easter Sunday at 9am.  During the interview ONE News Political Editor Guyon Espiner put to the minister that the SAS was involved in hunting down the Taliban insurgents believed to be responsible for Tim O’Donnell’s death.

Wayne Mapp  “As you would imagine New Zealand has been taking an active interest in what occurs in that region and New Zealand forces were involved in that”  

The Minister told Q+A it was not a revenge killing but it was done to secure the area.

Guyon Espiner “So the people who killed Tim O’Donnell were in turn killed by allied forces including New Zealanders?”

Wayne Mapp “Well it is a war and military operations do take place”

It’s believed insurgents who attacked the convoy had come in from neighbouring Baghlan Province. Q+A understands that about two weeks later the SAS mobilised from its base in Kabul and with American assistance launched a counter attack in Baghlan.

Wayne Mapp “We have our Special Forces to be able to undertake military operations that is part of their over all remit”

Guyon Espiner “So you’re not denying it?”

Wayne Mapp “No, I’m not denying it”

Tim O’Donnell was part of the Provincial Reconstruction Team of about 140 NZ troops who do a mixture of aid work and military patrols in Bamiyan province.

Guyon Espiner                       “Is it within our remit and our rules of engagement to go into that neighbouring province for military action?

Wayne Mapp                         “It is in the remit of the Special Forces to be able to undertake operations at the direction essentially of ISAF, NATO and in this case particularly to protect our people.

Guyon Espiner                       “There were also claims civilians died in the Kiwi counter attack”

Wayne Mapp                         “That’s been investigated and proven to be false”

Guyon Espiner                       “So no civilians were killed in that? You’re satisfied about that?  You’ve seen some reports on that?

Wayne Mapp                         “I’m satisfied around that”.

The full interview with the Defence Minister, including other controversial aspects about NZ’s involvement in Afghanistan will screen this Sunday.


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