Defence to name killed NZ soldiers
Defence to name killed NZ soldiers

New Zealand troops in Afghanistan were attacked within 24 hours of the firefight which left two soldiers dead, the Defence Force has revealed.

Insurgents used rifles and rocket propelled grenades, fire was returned and there were no casualties, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones says.

He confirmed on Monday insurgent activity in Bamyan province where New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team is based had increased over the last two months.

He isn't going to ask for more troops.

"We are confident we have got the measure of these groups," he said.

"Our actions will keep them in check while we are building up the capacity of the local Afghan security forces."

The second engagement, overnight New Zealand time, came a day after the first fatal attack and just over two years after Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell became the first of seven New Zealand soldiers to be killed in action in Afghanistan.

The soldiers killed in Saturday's engagement were Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer, 26, from Christchurch, and Lance Corporal Rory Malone, 26, from Auckland.

Neither was married.

Six New Zealand soldiers were injured and are in hospital at Bagram air base.

They have not been named.

Lt Gen Jones said their conditions were stable and five would be transferred to a military hospital.

The sixth was shot in the neck and would be transferred when it was possible to move him.

Lance Cpl Malone died in a hail of rifle fire as he went to the aid of his company commander, who was one of those injured, Lt Gen Jones said.

Lance Cpl Durrer was also killed by rifle fire.

The insurgents "took a battering" but it wasn't known how many were killed, Lt Gen Jones said.

About 17 insurgents are believed to have been involved and provincial governor Habiba Sarabi told DPA that 15 of them were killed or injured.

The patrol had been called in by Afghan security forces who were attacked by insurgents as they tried to capture a bomb-maker.

Four Afghan intelligence officers were also killed during the engagement and 16 military personnel were injured, including the six New Zealanders.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the first attack and Lt Gen Jones says the insurgents are stepping up their efforts.

"There's greater fire power going in from the Taliban, greater effort, they're better resourced and they've moved people up from one of the southern provinces," Lt Gen Jones said.

In the second attack up to 15 insurgents came within 100m of the New Zealand patrol.

Lt Gen Jones says it was "a show of force" after the first engagement.

"They wanted to let us know they were still around."

New Zealand has previously announced its intention to withdraw from Bamyan in 2013, a year earlier than first intended.

NZ Newswire

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