Former Defence Minister Wayne Mapp has conceded civilians were killed in a 2010 Afghanistan raid - the first Government concession of the deaths.

The raid is the focus of Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson's new book, which claims six people were killed.

Newshub spoke to Mapp - who was Defence Minister at the time of the attack - today.

"One of the disasters of war is these terrible things can happen," he said when asked about the deaths.


When asked if he was remorseful, he said: "In 2014 I was informed that, I saw it on TV in fact, that a 3-year-old was killed, I'm sure everyone is remorseful about that. At the time of the attack they thought they were being attacked by insurgents."

Former Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp. Photo / File
Former Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp. Photo / File

Mapp added: "At the time the raid took place the soldiers thought they were engaging with insurgents, that's how people were acting, that's what the report was at the time.

"We didn't achieve the objective we sought, which was the capture of a named group of people," Mapp said.

Last night Mapp told Fairfax: "I mean, [the deaths] was an accident. No-one in the New Zealand Defence Force goes and does these things deliberately. They undertook their actions because they thought they were under attack."

Mapp added that the actions of the soldiers did not meet the threshold of a war crime.

In 2011 Mapp denied civilians were killed when the raid became public.

The new book, Hit and Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and the meaning of honour, claims Mapp told a friend the operation was New Zealand's "biggest and most disastrous operation - a fiasco".

Released yesterday, the book alleges t​he SAS killed six civilians and injured 15 during a raid on two villages in Tirgiran Valley, Baghlan.

It claims the raid was a retaliation against the killing of Kiwi soldier Tim O'Donnell days earlier.


Afghanistan governor says civilians were killed

The former governor of Bamyan province where New Zealand troops served for a decade also confirmed civilians were killed in the raid led by the NZSAS in 2010.

Habiba Sarabi said she had been told by people in the area close to the raid that civilians had been killed and she had been personally told of civilian casualties.

"We have to avoid civilian casualties but sometimes it happens. I have heard from Baghlan people from the community close to Bamyan that there were civilian casualties."

The statement from Sarabi backs up claims in Hit & Run which said the August 2010 mission was led by New Zealand's NZSAS and saw six civilians killed and 15 wounded. It claimed it was a botched raid which saw none of the intended targets killed.

NZ Defence Force has refused to make detailed comment other than stating that no civilians lost their lives during the raid but nine combatants were killed.

Speaking from Afghanistan, Sarabi said the people killed lost their lives in a raid which followed the death of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, New Zealand's first fatality in our decade-long involvement running a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan.

"I was aware of the mission."

She said the raid stemmed from concern that there were insurgents in the area who, if left unchecked, could have developed to become a significant threat to the New Zealanders running the PRT.

"Sometimes if the insurgents are coming from the other side [of the province] the mission should work to clean the area. To clean the area, sometimes it needs to go out of the place you are responsible for.

"I don't know the number of civilian casualties but in a conflict there's sometimes civilian casualties happening.

"It is, of course, war."

Sarabi said information about civilian deaths came from people who lived in the area bordering Bamyan and Baghlan provinces. The two villages which were the focus of the book were about 50km from the New Zealand PRT base and not far over the border into Baghlan.