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Report: Elite Australian Troops Killed Dozens of Civilians

19 soldiers could face charges in Afghanistan killings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 19, 2020 4:22 AM CST

(Newser) – A shocking Australian military report into war crimes has found evidence that elite Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers, and civilians. Australian Defence Force Chief Gen. Angus Campbell said Thursday the shameful record included alleged instances in which new patrol members would shoot a prisoner in order to achieve their first kill in a practice known as "blooding," the AP reports. He said the soldiers would then plant weapons and radios to support false claims the prisoners were enemies killed in action. Campbell told reporters in Canberra the illegal killings began in 2009, with the majority occurring in 2012 and 2013. He said some members of the elite Special Air Service encouraged "a self-centered, warrior culture."

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The chief was announcing the findings of a four-year investigation by Maj. Gen. Paul Brereton, a judge and Army reservist who was asked to look into the allegations and interviewed more than 400 witnesses and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Brereton recommended 19 soldiers be investigated by police for possible charges, including murder. "To the people of Afghanistan, on behalf of the Australian Defence Force, I sincerely and unreservedly apologize for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers," Campbell said. The report said a total of 25 current or former troops were involved as perpetrators or accessories in 23 separate incidents, with some involved just once and a few multiple times. It said none of the alleged crimes were committed in the heat of battle.

(Read more Afghanistan war stories.)

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