December 12, 2017

Two more Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan

A Chinook helicopter operating in Afghanistan.

Two Australian soldiers have died in two separate incidents in Afghanistan in what Australian Defence Force, Chief Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston says is “a very bad day” for Australia.

He announced that a 25-year-old Lance Corporal, from Queensland, was killed after a shooting involving a rogue Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier.

The Lance Corporal was believed to have been shot while on guard duty with the ANA soldier yesterday.

“He sustained three wounds – that’s the only thing that we’ve got at the moment that might suggest three shots … but I wouldn’t confirm that.”

He said a hunt for the alleged attacker from the ANA 4th Brigade was under way. Air Chief Marshal Houston said the Afghan soldier was “not an imposter”.

A local Afghan commander, General Hamid, said that the shooting took place in the southern Uruzgan Province, and stemmed from an argument, where the Afghan soldier “turned his weapon on him, killing him”.

A Taliban spokesman said the attacker was an insurgent disguised as an ANA soldier.

A second Australian soldier, a 27-year-old Lieutenant and qualified pilot believed to be from Victoria, died following a helicopter crash about 90 kilometres from Tarin Kowt in southern Afghanistan. He was not part of the Chinook crew but was one of the passengers onboard the helicopter.

“At this stage, we simply do not know what happened,” said Air Chief Marshall Houston. Saying it was unknown if the Chinook had suffered mechanical problems or if there was “enemy action” in the area at the time it went down.

Five other Australian soldiers were injured in the crash and taken to a medical facility in Kandahar.

The latest two deaths brings the total count of Australian military personnel killed in Afghanistan to 26 with 170 wounded.