A decision is imminent on whether an inquiry will be held into allegations an SAS raid in Afghanistan led to civilian deaths.

Prime Minister Bill English said he would be looking at the matter today, after formal advice was delivered by the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

An announcement will be made in the next few days, English told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB. The Prime Minister is holding his regular post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon.

"If [Keating] gives us advice then we will look at it and go, we either agree with it or we don't. Fundamentally the decision about a wider inquiry would be made by the Government," English said.


"If he says there is nothing there, that will certainly have an influence on the decision the Government makes but we are yet to go through those steps."

English has already ruled out an inquiry into allegations of war crimes, but has left open the possibility of some form of inquiry or further investigation into other claims, although labelling that "unlikely".

Hit & Run by journalists Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager claims six civilians were killed and 15 were injured in the 2010 raids in Afghanistan's Baghlan province, and those facts have been covered up by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

The book said the raid was a revenge attack on insurgents who were believed to be responsible for the death of soldier Timothy O'Donnell, the first New Zealand combat death in Afghanistan.

Stephenson and Hager, Labour, the Green Party, New Zealand First and United Future have all called for an inquiry into the allegations in Hit & Run, as have lawyers acting for Afghani villagers.

Keating and the NZDF say the book contains major inaccuracies, including the location of the villages where the raids took place, named in the book as Naik and Khak Khuday Dad.

Nine insurgents were killed in the raids and it was possible civilians died because of misfire from a US helicopter, Keating said last Monday, but this could not be established.

The NZDF has previously said investigations by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) after the raids determined allegations of civilian deaths were "unfounded".


Wayne Mapp, who as Defence Minister approved the "Operation Burnham" raids in 2010, outed himself as a source for the book on Friday and called for further investigation to find out if civilians died.