Diggers may be charged over child deaths
Jonathan Pearlman; 5/12/09
A raid in which five Afghan children were killed could result in combat-related charges against Australian soldiers for the first time since the Vietnam War. Two internal Defence Force investigations are understood to have raised serious concerns about whether the soldiers – reservists from the Sydney-based 1st Commando Regiment – breached their rules of engagement. Defence has revealed little about the February incident, other than to say that soldiers were clearing a compound at night. Defence officials have refused to comment on suggestions – including one by the father of a seven-year-old girl who was killed – that the raid was unprovoked and hand grenades were thrown into the compound. The Age understands that some of the soldiers in the sub-unit were reservists who worked as police in Australia and that questions have been raised about the possibility they were not properly trained in military procedures for entering houses.