Australian condolences for Kiwi soldier deaths
Mon, 20 Aug 2012 5:32p.m.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has extended the nation's condolences to New Zealand for the loss of three Kiwi soldiers in Afghanistan.
Those killed on Sunday were Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, and Private Richard Harris, 21.
"This news is particularly painful coming just two weeks after the deaths of two New Zealand soldiers and the wounding of six others in the same province," the prime minister said in a statement on Monday.
"The thoughts of the Australian people are today with New Zealand, and in particular with the families who have lost loved ones and with the soldiers who have lost comrades."
The three members of New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team were travelling in the last vehicle in a convoy in the northeast of Bamyan province on Sunday morning when an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up beneath their vehicle.
It was New Zealand's first female casualty since the Vietnam War.
Ms Gillard said New Zealand had made a significant contribution to ensuring Afghanistan never again became a safe haven for international terrorism.
"As a valued partner of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), New Zealand is supporting Bamyan Province through the transition to Afghan security leadership," she said.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said he had spoken to his NZ counterpart Jonathan Coleman and offered the condolences of the Australian government and people.
"Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the New Zealand soldiers and with the New Zealand people at this difficult time," he said.
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