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Wardak raid needs thorough inquiry

“We are all mourning the death of Lance Corporal Smith, and it would be even more tragic if he died needlessly in a raid motivated by false intelligence,” said Mr Locke.

There needs to be a thorough inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of SAS soldier Leon Smith in Afghanistan's Wardak province this week, Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Keith Locke said today.

An independent journalist on the ground in Afghanistan claims that the raid was the result of a family feud and that the Governor of the province where the raid occurred - Wardak - is seeking answers. As well as the death of Lance Corporal Smith there were also Afghanistani casualties.

"We are all mourning the death of Lance Corporal Smith, and it would be even more tragic if he died needlessly in a raid motivated by false intelligence," said Mr Locke.

"We don't want more of our soldiers to die needlessly.

"It is obvious our SAS is in full combat mode in Afghanistan rather than the Government spin of 'mentoring'.

"Our SAS needs to be brought home now, not in March next year.

"It is damaging for New Zealand's reputation if our troops are involved in operations where innocent Afghan civilians are killed.

"Raids based on false intelligence have been a feature of the war in Afghanistan. On Boxing Day 2010 our SAS soldiers shot two Afghan civilians in a raid on the Kabul offices of Tiger International, a contractor to the United States forces. This raid was based on false intelligence.

"Immediately after the Tiger International raid we were fed the story that Taliban insurgents were somehow involved.

"A full inquiry needs to be undertaken urgently on the Wardak raid and the public informed of its conclusions."

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