Aussie soldiers accused of mass shooting
An investigation is underway after Australian special forces were again accused of being responsible for killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan.
The Australian soldiers reportedly killed up to 10 unarmed villagers during a 2012 raid in Kandahar Province, ABC Investigations reported.
The raid, conducted by the highly-skilled Special Air Service Regiment (SAS), is believed to be the worst innocent mass shooting allegedly carried out by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
The December 2012 raid left a number of Taliban soldiers dead but also led to a number of unarmed villagers from Sara Aw, hiding near a tractor, being killed.
Villager Abdul Qadus told the ABC his brother Abdul Salim had been driving the tractor when he was allegedly killed.
"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."
The ABC reported no weapons were found on the villagers at the tractor. The publication also understands some SAS soldiers were unhappy about the fatal altercation in the village.
Abdul Qadus was also shot in the raid and evacuated by Australian soldiers to the Afghan National Army hospital at Kandahar air base.
Speaking to the ABC, villager Rahmatullah said three Taliban soldiers had been hiding in a hut and had tried to escape capture.
"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."
Rahmatullah alleges the Australian soldiers "came after" them.
"(They) shot them at the tractor. They were shooting people intentionally. They were mass shooting," he said.
Sources told the ABC there were up to 10 suspicious killings in the village of Sara Aw in December 2012, that also left five Taliban dead. The villagers claim 11 civilians were killed in the operation.
Farmer Mohammad Nassim said the Taliban were shot and killed in the fighting before the soldiers allegedly turned their attention to the villagers.
"It was 11am, three (helicopters) landed," Mr Nassim said.
"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."
Australian special forces soldiers have for years now been embroiled in allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan.
The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force tabled a report in federal parliament in February that revealed at least 55 separate incidents, from 2005 to 2016, were being investigated as part of an exhaustive probe that includes interviews with more than 330 witnesses.
News.com.au has contacted the Department of Defence for comment.
Originally published as Aussie soldiers accused of mass shooting