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Irish Soldier Dies In East Timor

Defence Minister Mark Burton has extended sympathy and condolences on behalf of the New Zealand Government to the family of an Irish soldier who has died in East Timor.

21-year old Private Peader Flaherty was accidentally shot by an Irish colleague while on patrol.

The Irish contingent is serving as part of the New Zealand Battalion Group based in the south-east region of East Timor.

"Private Flaherty sustained a head wound in a rifle accident involving another Irish soldier," Mark Burton said.

"He was transported by a New Zealand Iroquois helicopter to the Slovakian medical facility based in Suai but failed to respond to treatment and was declared dead at approximately 7.00pm last evening, local time.

"I have spoken this afternoon to the Irish Ambassador to New Zealand (based in Canberra). The death of any peacekeeper is a matter of deep regret, and on behalf of the Government I have extended through the ambassador my condolences to the Flaherty family at this very sad time".

Four New Zealand soldiers and a Nepalese soldier attached to the New Zealand Battalion Group have died in East Timor since the peacekeeping operation began in September 1999.


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