Australian special forces are alleged to have killed 39 civilians and unarmed prisoners as part of an initiation process, a government investigation has revealed.
19 current and former Australian soldiers are being referred for potential criminal prosecution for the killings that took place between 2005 and 2016, according to Reuters. The government investigation revealed that senior commanders ordered their subordinates to kill the unarmed prisoners and civilians across 23 separate incidents, per Reuters. (RELATED: REPORT: Trump To Order Additional Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan And Iraq Later This Week)
The killings were part of a process called “blooding” in which troops were required by their commanders to shoot a captive to achieve their first kill as a soldier, the report alleges. A fake battle scene was often staged afterwards to disguise that an execution had taken place, reports Reuters.
Allegations that elite Australian Defense Force troops unlawfully killed 39 civilians or prisoners in Afghanistan are “credible,” said the ADF chief, announcing the release of a long-awaited report today https://t.co/nxwUyZqrSO
— Axios (@axios) November 19, 2020
The four-year investigation said that a majority of the Afghans who were killed — most of whom were prisoners, farmers, or local civilians — were shot after having been captured. Killing prisoners is a violation of international law. (RELATED: Two Wounded After Rockets Impact Near US Embassy In Iraq)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to “express his sorrow” for the atrocities, Reuters reports. Australia still has 1,500 troops active in Afghanistan as of today, per Reuters.