Child advocate devastated by Afghan report

Paul Osborne
·1-min read

Save the Children says it is devastated to learn Australian soldiers may have committed atrocities against children in Afghanistan.

A report by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force said special forces soldiers had engaged in "sanctioned massacres" of people they described as "squirters".

"Special Forces would open fire, killing many men (and sometimes women and children) as they ran away," the report said.

"(They) ... would then contrive a plausible excuse, such as the squirters 'were running away from us to their weapons caches'."

Mat Tinkler, deputy chief executive of Save the Children Australia, said the public release of the report was welcome and subsequent prosecutions would be critical to the delivery of accountability and justice for the violations.

"We know that all wars are wars against children, but it is truly devastating to learn that there have been atrocities committed against children by Australian soldiers," he told AAP.

"Australia's vigorous response to these heinous findings will demonstrate our nation's commitment to upholding international humanitarian law, including the protection of children in war.

"Save the Children Australia extends our deepest condolences to the people of Afghanistan who have suffered as a result."