Chilling footage captured by the body camera of a US soldier has shown the moment a child dressed in pristine white clothing walked calmly towards a small group of men before exploding into smithereens.
The child, later found to be aged about 12, detonated just metres from David Savage, an Australian who in 2012 was in Afghanistan working for AusAid, according to ABC’s 7.30 Report.
In the explosion, which can be heard in bodycam footage aired to the program on Tuesday, Mr Savage is blasted into the air and thrown to the other side of the road.
Soldiers then rush to his side and try to control the blood pouring out of various wounds, before calling for additional help.
Mr Savage was flown by helicopter to Tarin Kowt and underwent surgery, the program said, but has not been able to walk since the attack and now uses a wheelchair to get around.
He said in the seven years since the incident, he has been fighting a losing battle in having the Australian Defence Force (ADF) tell the “truth” about what actually happened in the moments leading up to the bombing.
Mr Savage claimed the ADF has “ignored the most critical evidence, perhaps to protect others in the ADF and their reputation”, according to a post he shared to Facebook.
He argued the ADF failed to acknowledge critical warning signs leading up to the attack which he believed could have alerted soldiers to the imminent danger they were in.
Earlier in the day during a patrol through a local market – shown in the bodycam footage aired by the 7.30 Report - a man was seen with orange on his hands by a soldier, who noted that could be an indication he had been working with explosives.
Closer to the detonation site, footage showed that workers had abandoned their tools, which was uncommon given tools were valuable and not often left behind.
The boy’s clean, white clothing was reportedly also a tell-tale sign of a suicide bomb, the program reported. The child walked directly towards Mr Savage for about 40 seconds without being intercepted.
The US guard assigned to Mr Savage was 50 metres ahead of him at the time of the explosion, according to the program.
Australian Defence Force conducts internal inquiry
Despite these key details, an internal inquiry conducted by the ADF found that the incident was an “unexpected event”, a statement provided to the 7.30 Report said.
The ADF argued Mr Savage was wearing a US-issued armoured vest instead of an Australian one, and reportedly criticised him for being overweight. Mr Savage told the program the provided Australian vest did not fit him.
In the statement, the ADF said a report highlighting the findings of its investigation concluded it did not “conclusively find that the use of non-issued personnel protective equipment or his BMI contributed to the injuries Mr Savage sustained”.
“The protection of Australian civilian personnel was provided by ADF elements or comparable force elements from our international partners which, in this case, included the United States security forces.
“The Inquiry Officer inquiry found that the United States security force element’s actions were competent, diligent and thorough.”
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