'Massive explosion' doomed NZ soldiers
Mon, 20 Aug 2012 6:16p.m.
By Patrick Gower
All 10 of the New Zealand soldiers who've now died on duty in Afghanistan are special. But among the latest three is an element that's unique.
When 26-year-old Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker died in yesterday's explosion, she became the first New Zealand female soldier to die in combat.
Not since Vietnam has a New Zealand woman died in action, and she was a civilian nurse.
Thirty-one-year-old year old Corporal Luke Tamatea had 12 years in the army, and four young children.
With Cpl Tamatea and L/Cpl Baker in the Humvee that blew up was 21-year-old was Private Richard Harris, another family man.
All three were family really, from the same regiment based at Burnham Military Camp, 28km south of Christchurch. There this evening a flag was lowered to half-mast in salute.
Earlier today the Defence Force revealed more details about the attack that killed the three of them.
Cpl Tamatea's children are used to him coming home safely, like when he got back from the relief effort after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami; a Kawerau boy, with a grieving whanau.
"He phoned me about a week ago and said, 'Don't worry about me nana,'" says Lorraine O'Brien, his grandmother. "They were his last words to me. We've been hoping [Prime Minister] John Key would send them back after the last few days, 'cause he was with the guys who died."
"All three were killed immediately," says Defence Force chief Lt General Rhys Jones.
"Every time I get a phone call from the Minister of Defence or [Lt Gen Jones] about this, it's a gut-wrenching experience," says Mr Key.
The latest attack happened in the dangerous north-eastern area of the Bamiyan region around Do Abe just 10km from the fatal firefight two weeks ago.
A convoy of four Humvees were returning to Romero base from Do Abe. At 9:21am the last vehicle was hit by an IED in what's described as a "massive explosion".
The Humvees were being used instead of the army's LAVs, which have heavier armour.
"The capacity of this bomb would've torn apart any vehicle on it," says Mr Key. "Over 20 kilos of explosives, as we understand it, so this was a very significant bomb."
The Taliban have claimed responsibility," saying, "We'll show you that no part of Afghanistan is safe."
It is just 15 days since L/Cpls Rory Malone and Pralli Duller were killed in a firefight. That happened as the insurgents tried to protect their bomb maker – it is believed he got away, and could be responsible for this.
"He's probably still out there," says Lt Gen Jones.
The bodies will be returned to New Zealand later this week, with funeral dates to be set.
Mr Key has ruled out the return of the SAS troops in a full-scale combat role, but he isn't ruling out a small number returning to help with what he's calling "planning and logistics" roles.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
21/08/2012 7:10:28 a.m.
IED's are not just one type of explosive, or even several types of explosive.This makes sniffer dogs less effective as a trained dog will detect explosives they are trained for, but not necessarily other exposives they are not trained for.Also at issue is the speed of the dog as a sniffer dog will work at below walking pace. Now in a province where a patrol can be 100's of kms, the dog speed just wont cut it at below walking pace.If take the airport scanners tech, now they are moving in the right direction to make detection of previously identified materials possible. But again the range to explosive and the speed to scan, plus the size of equipment makes even that tech impractical yet in the above situation.Its that the Kiwis have done such a good job in the province will have upset the talliban. If take the civilians killed in Afghanistan by talliban, the civilian toll is huge as like most cowards they find killing civilians much easier than killing military.Yes NZ has lost soldiers and any loss is not good. But compared to NZ road toll where NZ will typically lose 5 just about any week. While significant loss to our small defence forces and their families, on NZ scale, the loss is still small.NZ's efforts have significantly reduced talliban action in the province, reduced civilian casualties and helped civilians immensely. To pull out would be much like losing some police officers to some madman shooting, and then deciding to stop all policing for the loss. Policing is a dangerous job which helps others, and our forces in Afghanistan were much like that in an even more dangerous situation.The people we should be asking about pulling out early should be our troops, not some politicians 1/2 way around the world.
20/08/2012 9:03:00 p.m.
Sineon david tamatea wrote:
Miss you cuzzy wish we could have meet up in the army. God bless
20/08/2012 8:53:11 p.m.
In this day and age if it is technologically possible to build, place and detonate such a device it is technologically possible to detect, warn and protect humans against such a device!
20/08/2012 8:07:34 p.m.
Any (Kiwi)dog with half a brain could have been trained to smell out this amount of explosive and alert our solders if it was standard practice for the NZ Army to use trained K9s as forward scouts in these high risk situations!
An Auckland father is outraged his 14-year-old daughter was ...
A Kaipara couple have become the first farmers to release ki...
A woman is in hospital with critical injuries after she was ...
Auckland's most popular beach is under threat of development...
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.