Australian Special Forces allegedly killed a teenage boy in Afghanistan after being shot dead and then tried to cover up his death.
In a report to air on the ABC’s 7.30 program on Monday night, sources claim soldiers killed the boy and left his body among rocks while on patrol in Kandahar Province.
The boy’s death now forms part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the Special Forces being carried out by the Inspector General of the Defence Force, although it was allegedly never reported to superiors.
Reportedly aged either 14 or 15, the boy, identified by the ABC as Khan Mohammed, died in the early hours of a morning in 2012.
The boy was collecting figs at the time and suffered leg and chest gunshot wounds, relatives say, with what appeared to be an Australian Army GPS found at the scene.
His death has also been referred to the Australian Federal Police.
‘On 2 September 2016, the Chief of Army Australian Defence Force (ADF) referred a matter to the AFP relating to an allegation of an unlawful killing by the ADF in Afghanistan in 2012,’ an AFP spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The AFP is undertaking an evaluation of the matter referred, and as such it would not be appropriate to comment further.’
The inquiry, announced last year, is also reportedly looking into the deaths of Bismillah Azadi and his son Sadiqullah in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province.
Both were killed in September 2013 during a raid by Australian SAS troops, who were later cleared of the deaths.
Bismillah was found by an investigation – which also heard claims by soldiers the man drew a pistol on them – to be a certain Taliban sympathiser.
A special forces veteran, who spent time in Afghanistan, told the press he had noticed a ‘decay of moral and ethical values’.
‘Ultimately the behaviour of some elements of SOTG [Special Operations Task Group] led to the indiscriminate, reckless and avoidable deaths of innocent civilians, caused by an institutional shift in culture that contributed to the decay of moral and ethical values towards armed conflict,’ the man, who is not named, said.
In a statement to the press, a Defence spokesperson said the Australian Defence Force conducts its operations under strict rules of engagement and promotes a culture of ethical and lawful behaviour.
‘These rules and cultural norms are designed to ensure the actions of Australian forces are ethical and consistent with Defence’s obligations under Australian and international law,’ the spokesperson said.
‘Defence does not condone its people operating outside of these rules and norms, and it takes allegations of misconduct seriously.’
The spokesperson added it is a matter of public record the IGADF is currently conducting a scoping inquiry to determine whether there is any substance to rumours relating to the Special Operations Task Group during deployments in Afghanistan over the period 2005 to 2016.
‘The Scoping Inquiry commenced in May 2016 as the result of a referral from the Chief of Army,’ the spokesperson said.
‘While the IGADF scoping inquiry is in progress, it is inappropriate to comment on the status of any rumours or allegations.
‘Defence will not provide any further information or detail relating to these rumours or allegations to protect the integrity and independence of the IGADF Scoping Inquiry.’
The spokesperson has encouraged anyone with information or evidence relating to alleged, unlawful or inappropriate conduct relating to Special Operations Task Group deployments in Afghanistan to bring it to the attention of the IGADF and/or the Australian Federal Police.