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Defence Force denies war crime but admits possible civilian deaths

  Wikimedia Commons

The New Zealand Defence Force agreed Operation Burnham may have caused civilian deaths - but not those stated in the book.

The New Zealand Defence Force has reiterated its view that Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson's book Hit and Run is built on an incorrect premise.

Defence Force chief Tim Keating said Operation Burnham took place 2km from the site referred to in Hit and Run.

Keating said nine insurgents were killed in the operation and that civilian deaths may have occurred.  He did not have the names of the nine insurgents killed.

He stressed the possible civilian deaths were not the deaths stated in the book.

Keating said the civilian deaths could have happened when shots fired from a helicopter fell short of the target and hit a building where civilians may have been used as human shields. This was not a war crime, he said.

"The clear contrast to me between the book and what actually happened during Operation Burnham was that in all respects the conduct of New Zealand Armed Forces were exemplary." 

Keating said classified footage of the raid existed. This had been reviewed and could be released. It proved Hager's and Stephenson's claims were wrong, he said.