Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

NZ soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Two New Zealand Defence Force personnel have been killed and six injured in Afghanistan. File photo / NZDF
Two New Zealand Defence Force personnel have been killed and six injured in Afghanistan. File photo / NZDF

Two New Zealand Defence Force personnel have been killed and six injured in Afghanistan.

The New Zealand Defence Force said in a statement the two were serving with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team.

They were killed during an incident in the north east of Bamiyan Province.

A further six NZDF personnel were wounded during the incident and they were evacuated to a military hospital.

Two local security personnel were also killed, and a further 11, including one civilian, were wounded.

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said: "We are deeply saddened by this loss and, on behalf of the entire New Zealand Defence Force, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, colleagues and friends of the personnel involved."

The incident occurred about 7pm yesterday (NZ time) when the troops were assisting local authorities who encountered suspected insurgents near a village south of Do Abe.

Prime Minister John Key said the deaths brought the total number of New Zealand soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to seven.

"It reinforces the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the province.

"It is with enormous sadness that I acknowledge that these soldiers have paid the highest price. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the two brave soldiers killed and also with the families and friends of those injured."

Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman has offered his condolences to the families of the soldiers killed in action.

"The thoughts of the Government and the people of New Zealand are with the NZDF today. Our thoughts are especially with the families of those who died, and the families of those who were wounded.

"The work the NZDF undertake in this region is dangerous and they have been well trained to respond to these incidents."

Dr Coleman said the soldiers were responding to local security forces coming under attack and it developed into a serious incident.

The NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team is into its nineteenth rotation in Afghanistan, having arrived there in October 2011. In May, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said PRT troops were scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.

Labour Party leader David Shearer, who previously worked for the United Nations in Afghanistan, said the area the two soldiers were killed was one of the most volatile in Bamiyan Province.

"We are very, very saddened to hear of the loss of two lives. Our first thoughts go out to the families of those that were killed and wounded."

The latest deaths did not make him reconsider whether New Zealand troops should remain in the country.

"I think we've got a programme to withdraw over time and I think that's probably the right way to go. Unfortunately it's a dangerous place to work. It's tragic that it's happened towards the end of our programme."

Mr Shearer said the New Zealand contingent was seen as a "model" of how effective a reconstruction team could be.

"We have to acknowledge the great work that our personnel have done in Afghanistan, and in Bamiyan in particular. We have been able to improve of the lives of people through health and education programmes and we've also been able to contribute to the stability and support of the local administration that can take over the running of the province."

The Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei told APNZ the deaths were a "terrible tragedy".

"The Green Party's love goes out to all of the family members of those who were killed and wounded as well.

"We, like the rest of New Zealand are waiting for more information about the details."

Ms Turei said the Provincial Reconstruction Team had been doing very well in Afghanistan and in supporting the community there.

"So this is a real tragedy that this has happened with some of the members of that reconstruction team."

TRAGIC ROLL CALL

August 2012: Two PRT soldiers killed in an attack in northeast Bamiyan Province.

April 2012: PRT Corporal Douglas Hughes dies in incident at Romero.

September 2011: SAS Lance Corporal Leon Smith killed during an operation in Wardak Province.

August 2011: SAS Corporal Doug Grant, 41, killed during a Taleban attack in Kabul.

February 2011: PRT Private Kirifi Mila killed in a Humvee accident in Bamiyan.

August 2010: PRT Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell killed in a firefight after an ambush in Bamiyan.

- APNZ

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