Australia digests report of Afghan military killings

Australians reacted with shock and distress on Friday (November 20), a day after the release of a report alleging Australian special forces killed 39 unarmed civilians and prisoners in Afghanistan.

The report has been described by national leaders as one of the darkest military chapters for Australia, just one week after the country's Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers.

Military personnel spoke against the report saying they felt vindicated by the inquiry.

Linda Reynolds is Australia's Defence Minister and a former army officer:

"How do I feel? I got the report two weeks ago and it made me physically ill and it was a very distressing read because I know that it doesn't, it certainly didn't represent my service"

The report found evidence of 'blooding,' an alleged practice where senior commanders would coerce junior soldiers to kill defenseless captives in Afghanistan to achieve their first kill.

The inquiry, which was conducted over four years, examined more than 20,000 documents, 25,000 images, and interviewed 423 witnesses under oath.

Some officials walked a delicate line of condemning the severity of the report's findings, while expressing solidarity with the country's armed forces.

Josh Frydenberg is Australia's Treasurer:

"These allegations should not overshadow the remarkable work by the men and women in the Australian Defence Force. Thousands have been deployed on assignment around the world defending our national interests and making Australia and the world a safer place."

The report recommended referring 19 current and former soldiers to a soon-to-be appointed special investigator for potential prosecution.

Reynolds has said that Canberra has been advised that if local prosecutions went ahead, it would negate charges at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.