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Scoop Audio – NZ Defence Staff On Soldier’s Death

Scoop Audio – NZ Defence Staff On Soldier’s Death

New Zealand’s Chief of Defence says the death of a New Zealand soldier in Afghanistan was always a likely outcome of its operations in the war-torn country.

Defence staff at a press conference Wednesday confirmed the killing of Lieutenant Timothy O’Donnell, 28, and wounding of three more in a firefight in Bamiyan Province at around 4am Afghanistan time this morning.

Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell said a roadside bomb exploded near O’Donnell’s convoy and a group of insurgents attacked the convoy with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades shortly after.

The insurgents dispersed after 20 to 30 minutes but low-hanging clouds and poor visibility prevented recovery staff from airlifting the soldiers to safety.

The soldiers are now back at Kiwi base but it is understood one man has burns on 10 percent of his body and another has a broken foot.

An Afghan interpreter was also injured but Stockwell says none of the survivors’ injuries are life-threatening.

Chief Of Defence Jerry Mateparae said he had spoken to O'Donnell's mother and the death had struck all defence personnel.

Asked if a death in Afghanistan was inevitable, Mateparae said Afghanistan was a dangerous place.

“We and the government have indicated that this is a likely outcome of the operations, and my people are under no doubt when they go on all operations that there is a significant risk – if it was a benign place we wouldn’t be there.

“Having said that we make sure that we prepare them well to meet those….The tactics, the techniques and the procedures and the things that you would expect in this extremist event have been done professionally.”

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said the Government knew the risks when it made the decision to redeploy the army’s Provincial Reconstruction Team.

The death had not affected the Government’s commitment to keep the soldiers in Afghanistan until 11 September, he said.

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