Slaying of Diggers premeditated
Afghan soldier Darwish Alokozai was shot dead after killing three Australians.
Comrades of an Afghan soldier who shot and killed three Australian diggers last year in an insider attack appear to have known in advance of their colleague’s intentions.
An inquiry into the so-called ''green on blue'' attack in October 2011 at the Sorkh Bed patrol base in northern Kandahar province has found that the shooter was targeting Australians but appeared not to have any connection to the Taliban insurgency.
Afghan Sergeant Darwish shot and killed Captain Bryce Duffy, 26, Corporal Ashley Birt, 22, and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin, 29. An Afghan interpreter was also killed and seven Australian soldiers were wounded.
Corporal Ashley Birt. Photo: Australian Defence Force
Australian soldiers, some of whom were themselves wounded, immediately returned fire, killing Darwish.
''There is evidence to suggest other individuals ... were aware of his intent prior to the incident,'' the report states.
Releasing the report Friday morning, the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, said that a close colleague of Darwish’s, who was most likely to have known about his intentions, had deserted several days before the shooting.
Captain Bryce Duffy. Photo: Australian Defence Force
The report states that Darwish was likely ''targeting ADF personnel'' when he opened fire from 10 to 15 metres away from the Australians about 8.20am, October 29 as they were congregating after a morning parade.
But there was no evidence any other soldier had ''actively supported'' Darwish. Air Marshal Binskin said the shooter’s intentions might never be known.
He said there had been ''a very thorough examination of this aspect of the incident including all available intelligence''.
Lance Corporal Luke Gavin. Photo: Australian Defence Force
''This examination has found there is no evidence that anyone actively supported Darwish.''
No action had been taken against other Afghans who might have had advance warning because the Australians could not prove they knew anything substantial, he added.
''One of the close colleagues of Darwish went AWOL about two or three days before, so we were never able to talk to him,'' he said.
Air Marshal Binskin commended the actions of the junior officers for the way they reacted ''under very extreme circumstances''.
Captain Duffy and Corporal Birt were pronounced dead on arrival at the main base at Tarin Kot. Doctors operated on Lance Corporal Gavin for several hours but he later died of his wounds.
''Clearly the situation in the patrol base Sorkh Bed was very tense immediately following the shooting,'' Air Marshal Binskin said.
''To their credit, the Australian personnel at the base responded in a calm and measured way.''
The inquiry also examined an insider attack at Nasir patrol base in eastern Oruzgan province on November 8 in which three Australian soldiers and two Afghans were shot and wounded.
Afghan soldier Mohammad Rozi opened fire with a 50 calibre machine gun on Australian and Afghan soldiers who were barbecuing and watching a movie. He fired from a high-ground overwatch position, about 300 metres from the Australians. When that gun jammed, he began firing with an automatic weapon.
Australians returned fire. Rozi fled, initially pursued by other Afghan soldiers, but escaped in a stolen ANA vehicle. He is still on the run and has since appeared in insurgency videos, though Air Marshal Binskin said there was no evidence he was connected with the insurgency at the time of the shooting.
''Without an opportunity to question Rozi, it’s unclear why exactly he opened fire.''
The stolen vehicle was found burning in a village about three kilometres away. He was likely to have escaped with the help of local sympathisers, the report concluded.
''Again, to their credit, the Australian personnel responded in a calm and balanced way,'' Air Marshal Binskin said.
He vowed that the ADF with the help of the ANA and other coalition forces, would continue to pursue Rozi and Sergeant Hekmatullah - an ANA soldier who killed three Australians in late August at a patrol valley in the Baluchi Valley.
''They are murderers and attempted murderers and we will pull out all efforts to bring them to justice. There is no place where they can feel safe,'' he said.