An internal assessment into the facts surrounding an operational incident in Afghanistan in which an Afghan man was shot and killed in the Baluchi Valley region has been completed.
The internal review conducted by Defence determined that the Australian soldiers involved in the incident adhered to the Rules of Engagement.
Special Operations Task Group soldiers were conducting a reconnaissance mission during the evening of 23 August when the incident occurred.
The soldiers were approached by a man carrying a machine gun.
The man was within 30 metres of the patrol when he was challenged to stop in the local Pashtu language. The man initially stopped in response to being challenged, but then proceeded to take a further step forward.
He was challenged a second time to stop. He again took a further step forward, but then raised his weapon at the members of the patrol. He was shot and killed.
The next day, information was received that the man was not an insurgent but the son of a local elder. A Shura (meeting) was called and the incident was subsequently discussed. Condolences were passed to the elder and these were accepted.
The internal review conducted into the soldiers’ actions determined that the soldiers responded lawfully to the situation confronting them. The review further found that their actions were in accordance with their rules of engagement and a legitimate act of self-defence.
This incident reflects the complex and dangerous environment the Australian and Coalition soldiers operate in.
The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, referred to the findings of this internal review at Senate Estimates on 19 October (see page 50, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Hansard).
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,