Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

SAS soldiers not involved in rescue: Govt

British media incorrectly reported that a joint British and American-led operation on June 2 involved New Zealand SAS troops. Photo / Thinkstock
British media incorrectly reported that a joint British and American-led operation on June 2 involved New Zealand SAS troops. Photo / Thinkstock

Reports that Kiwi SAS soldiers were involved in a daring Afghanistan raid to rescue four aid workers are incorrect and "frustrating" for the New Zealand Defence Force.

The aid workers, who work for Switzerland-based humanitarian group Medair, were kidnapped on May 22 in the remote province of Badakhshan in north-eastern Afghanistan, and were kept in caves.

They were believed to be hours away from execution when their rescuers swept in.

Dropped off by Black Hawk helicopters, the soldiers snuck 8km across mountainous terrain at night to the cave where they opened fire and killed as many as eight captors.

After a violent firefight, the two female aid workers - Kenyan Moragwa Oirere and her British colleague Helen Johnston - and their two Afghan translators were rescued.

British media had reported that the joint British and American-led operation on June 2 involved New Zealand SAS troops.

But despite denying the claims last week, the NZDF has become frustrated that the news has circulated around the internet hundreds of times.

A spokeswoman for the NZDF said one UK media outlet (The Independent) originally reported that New Zealand special forces were involved alongside 30 British SAS troops backed by US Navy Seals.

"I don't know where they got their information but it was incorrect," she said.

And despite telling New Zealand media that the NZSAS reports were false, it was repeated here.

"It's frustrating," the spokeswoman said. "I can't comment on where NZSAS personnel are at any time, but they are definitely not in Kabul."

- APNZ

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