Taliban leader's death no comfort: Mother

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

The death of a Taliban leader linked to a road side bombing that killed Te Teko's Luke Tamatea comes as cold comfort for Mr Tamatea's mother.

Lynne McSweeney said news about Abdullah Kalta's death could not bring back her son or the lives of the other two New Zealand soldiers killed in the August bombing.

"It's never great news when someone dies,'' she said. "It means another family has to feel the same way we did.''

Corporal Tamatea, along with fellow New Zealand soldiers Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris, were killed when their Humvee was hit by a roadside explosive device near Bamiyan in Afghanistan.

Radio New Zealand's Afghanistan correspondent Jon Stephenson said coalition officials released a statement on Sunday which said Kalta was responsible for several attacks on Afghan and coalition forces in the Bamiyan Province and was also a mentor for insurgents.

Mr Stephenson said the operation to kill Kalta was carried out by in ternational forces and his death would be a

major blow for the Taliban.

"He was clearly, by all accounts, a very resourceful, a very well informed insurgent leader, who played a very active role in both Baghlan and Bamiyan.''

However, it is still to be confirmed whether he was directly responsible for the roadside bombing which killed

the three New Zealand soldiers.

Mrs McSweeney, from Kawerau, said if Kalta was confirmed as the person responsible for her son's death it would

make it easier to process her thoughts about the killing.

"We are still waiting to hear from the liaison officer about the confirmation.''

Mrs McSweeney said her family heard about the death the same way everyone else did, through national news.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed this morning Kalta had died during last week's airstrike in Afghanistan.

Mr Key said on TVNZ's Breakfast show New Zealand personnel were not involved in the attack on Kalta but coalition forces could have used intelligence gathered by New Zealand SAS troops.

"We weren't physically involved but it was almost certainly intelligence that New Zealand people have been gathering over there.''

Corporal Tamatea, who died at the age of 31, grew up in Te Teko and joined the army at 19, shortly after leaving

Edgecumbe College in 1996.

He is survived by his four young girls Kyla, Kaytlen, Nikita and Keira.

_ additional reporting APNZ


- Rotorua Daily Post

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