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Safety of NZ personnel will not be compromised

Safety of New Zealand personnel overseas will not be compromised

Minister of Defence Mark Burton stressed today neither he nor Chief of Defence Force Bruce Ferguson will release any further information pertaining to the recent land mine incident involving three New Zealand SAS soldiers in Afghanistan.

“As we said yesterday, the environment in Afghanistan is, by its very nature, hazardous. It is one of the most heavily mined places in the world, and, sadly, the incidence of land mine related injuries is extremely high.

“The International Red Cross reports that over 200,000 people in Afghanistan have been killed or permanently disabled by land mines. Seventy percent of these are civilians, and one in ten are children under 14. During August alone, there were 130 victims of land mine injuries.

“As New Zealand and other countries have tragically found out, troops are not immune to this risk, despite every care being taken.

“However, one risk we can manage, and continue to insist on managing, is the release of any unnecessary information that in any way further jeopardises our troops or their families.

“As I stressed yesterday, recent events should reinforce to all New Zealanders, especially Members of Parliament, the need for care and prudence in discussing any operational detail pertaining to our personnel.

“The Chief of Defence Force and I moved quickly yesterday to provide as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. We will make no further comment.

“I’m confident that the people of New Zealand respect our ongoing determination to protect our people and their families while they are deployed serving their country.

“We will make no further comment.”

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