Australian soldiers charged over Afghan deaths

By DPA,

Sydney : Four Australian soldiers will be charged over the deaths of six Afghans in a raid on an insurgent compound in Uruzgan province last year, officials said Monday.


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The decision to press charges against the soldiers came after the Defence Force decided to refer the incident to the Director of Military Prosecutions.

“The accused persons will be charged with various service offences, including manslaughter, dangerous conduct, failing to comply with a lawful general order and prejudicial conduct,” the director said in a statement.

One suspected insurgent and five children were killed in the nighttime raid, while another two children and two adults were wounded.

Two of the soldiers released a statement saying they would fight the charges.

“It should not be forgotten that the casualties were ultimately caused by the callous and reckless act of an insurgent who chose to repeatedly fire upon us at extreme close range from within a room he knew contained women and children,” they said.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said it was not appropriate “to comment on the decision of the military prosecutor, the incident itself, or to prejudge in any way the outcome which will be heard before a service tribunal or tribunals.”

Australia joined the US in helping oust the Taliban administration in 2001 and has 1,550 troops stationed in Uruzgan.

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