|Subject: AFP: NZ military say soldier
killed in Timor had throat cut, ears removed
Also: Evening Standard: Private Manning shot by militia sentry - report
NZ military say soldier killed in Timor had throat cut, ears removed
AUCKLAND, Nov 17 (AFP) - A New Zealand peacekeeper killed in East Timor had his throat cut and his ears removed by Indonesian militia, a New Zealand Army inquiry said Friday.
Private Leonard Manning, the first New Zealand soldier to die in combat in nearly 30 years and the first peacekeeper to be killed in combat in East Timor, died instantly on July 24 from a shot to the head.
The army inquiry released Friday said Manning knew he was heading for a firefight with armed militia the day before he died.
However the army found nothing could have been done to prevent his death.
It refused to release complete details of the inquiry, which took most of August, but in a summary released said medics who examined Manning's body and a New Zealand pathologist confirmed he had died instantly.
The inquiry also confirmed Manning's throat had been cut and his ears removed after he died.
The report found that his death was not preventable and nothing could be done to recover his body earlier, because the militia controlled the higher ground and the other five soldiers in the patrol had little cover to stop and return fire.
The patrol withdrew to a safe area and made contact with another patrol to report the incident.
The inquiry found that about 3:00 pm local time the day before Manning died, the patrol had been told a "threat group" of nine armed men wearing green uniforms, balaclavas and black boots, had been seen in the patrol's area.
As the patrol followed fresh tracks in the bush it heard noises from the threat group and Manning reported sighting an armed militiaman.
The report said the patrol commander was reluctant to follow up the sighting because he was unsure of the strength and disposition of the militia and withdrew to an observation post shortly before midnight.
During the night the militia could be heard within 100 metres of the New Zealand patrol and a trip flare was set off.
In the morning the patrol found a "laying up position" for seven to nine people, and another a further 100 metres away.
It followed the group and within 20-30 metres were shot at by a militia sentry.
"The initial rounds were directed at Pte Manning who was fatally hit by one of these shots. The initial reaction from patrol members on hearing the shots was that one of their number had had an unauthorised discharge of their weapon," the report said.
However, it said within a few seconds it was obvious they were being attacked as other militia began shooting at the patrol.
The patrol withdrew under fire, trying to make contact with Pte Manning.
"However, due to the way in which Pte Manning was lying and his lack of response, it was strongly believed he was dead.
"There was no opportunity for the patrol to recover his body during the contact due to the dominating position of the threat group element, the concealment available to them and the lack of cover available to our patrol."
Manning's mutilated body was found in the middle of the afternoon, several hours after he died.
The inquiry found that until Manning's death the militia activity was characterised by criminal activity and acts of intimidation against the East Timorese population.
The Evening Standard
Private Leonard Manning, the Kiwi soldier killed in East Timor on July 24, was shot by a sentry for a militia group they were stalking, according to an Army Court of Inquiry. His patrol apparently startled the militia sentry in the early morning, the first detailed official report on Pte Manning's death says.
A summary of the inquiry report says that at 3pm on July 23, Private Manning's patrol received information that nine armed personnel wearing green uniforms, balaclavas and black boots had been seen in their area.
The patrol found fresh tracks and followed the suspected militiamen. When noises were heard, the patrol believed contact was imminent.
The patrol commander decided not to follow up right then, and by 10.30pm an observation post had been set up.
"During the night voices were heard within 100m of the patrol's location and a trip-flare that had been set up earlier by the patrol was set off.
"The next morning, tracking was again initiated and a laying up position (LUP) for 7-9 personnel was located. One hundred metres away, the patrol located another LUP, which was believed to be the night location for up to 20 personnel.
"The patrol elected to follow the threat group track, which led up on to high ground. At this stage it was believed the threat group track would move up and over the high ground, heading out of the area.
"After 20-30m of the patrol following this track, they came into contact with what is believed to have been the sentry for a threat group of unconfirmed strength.
"Aimed shots from the threat group sentry initiated the contact. The initial rounds were directed at Pte Manning, who was fatally hit by one of these shots. The initial reaction from patrol members, on hearing the first shot, was that one of their number had had an unauthorised discharge of their weapon.
"Within a few seconds . . . the situation became obvious to the patrol. Other threat group elements also began engaging the patrol with firearms.
"The patrol then withdrew while under fire. One of the patrol members attempted to make contact with Pte Manning.
"However, due to the way in which Pte Manning was lying, and his lack of response, it was strongly believed he was dead. There was no opportunity for the patrol to recover his body during the contact, due to the dominating position of the threat group element, the concealment available to them and the lack of cover available to our patrol." The patrol withdrew to end the contact.
The report says Pte Manning's body was recovered just before last light that day.
Pte Manning had a gunshot wound to his head. His throat had also been cut and both ears removed. Medical personnel believed he had died immediately and this was confirmed by a pathologist in New Zealand.
"Members of Pte Manning's patrol unanimously believe the contact only occurred because their patrol took them so close to the threat group's LUP that this group felt sufficiently threatened, or at the risk of discovery, to warrant their sentry opening fire.
"The court concluded that the death of Pte Manning could not have been prevented. Up till his death, threat group activity was characterised by criminal activity and acts of intimidation against the East Timorese population."
Threat groups had avoided contact with peacekeeping forces. In the court's opinion that patrol exercised a high degree of caution in tracking the group.
The court also determined that the group were at a tactical advantage. They were on dominating ground, had rudimentary field defences and were employing basic field security procedures. "The court concluded that Pte Manning's death was uncharacteristic of any previous threat group encountered in East Timor."
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