Kiwi troops to expand patrols after deaths
Tue, 07 Aug 2012 5:22a.m.
New Zealand troops are set to patrol a greater area of Afghanistan following an attack which left two dead over the weekend, with Prime Minister John Key critical of Hungarian patrols.
Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer, 26, from Christchurch, and Lance Corporal Rory Malone, 26, from Auckland, were shot dead by insurgents while responding to a firefight between Afghan security forces and the Taliban near Do Abe in Bamiyan province on Saturday night (local time).
Six other New Zealand soldiers were also injured, while four Afghan intelligence officers were killed and 10 of their troops injured.
Less than 24 hours later, a smaller group of insurgents attacked the New Zealand patrol base at Do Abe with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
The Kiwi soldiers returned fire and the battle lasted less than an hour, with no New Zealanders injured.
Mr Key says the government has given the Defence Force approval to make "minor changes" to its operations, including widening the Provincial Reconstruction Team's (PRT) patrol area beyond Bamiyan province into neighbouring Baghlan, to the northeast, which is under the control of the Hungarian PRT.
"The view from (Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones) is that will be likely to provide a greater level of protection to our soldiers," Mr Key said.
He said the New Zealand PRT has always had the capacity to move into that area, and there are questions over whether the Hungarian force is fulfilling all its responsibilities there.
Asked whether there was a basis to concerns about the Hungarians not patrolling the area at night, Mr Key responded: "Well, as far as I'm aware, the Hungarians don't go out at night. Not in Afghanistan anyway - they might in Budapest."
He said the government has no plan to return SAS soldiers to Afghanistan, as it did following the death of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell in the same area two years ago.
"That can change, and if it does I may or may not inform you."
He said "other personnel" may be deployed to Afghanistan, but not the SAS.
Lt Gen Jones confirmed on Monday that insurgent activity in Bamyan has increased over the last two months, but the Defence Force is confident it has "got the measure of these groups".
"Our actions will keep them in check while we are building up the capacity of the local Afghan security forces."
Lt Gen Jones said the dead soldiers' bodies were at Bagram airbase and it was hoped they would be returned to New Zealand as soon as possible.
Five of the injured New Zealanders will be transferred to a military hospital in Germany and the sixth, who was shot in the neck, will be transferred when it was possible to move him.
New Zealand has previously announced its intention to withdraw from Bamyan in 2013, a year earlier than first intended.
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8/08/2012 12:13:19 p.m.
kiwi soldier dieds for US cause!
7/08/2012 9:53:47 a.m.
Ray Grimm wrote:
Thats very sad to know!
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