A 24-year-old Australian special forces soldier has been killed overnight in Afghanistan - the 39th Digger to die in the 11 year old conflict.

Defence force chief David Hurley announced the soldier had been killed when an improvised explosive device was detonated while he cleared a compound.

No other Australian or Afghan soldier was injured.

The man's details have been withheld at the request of his family.

Gen. Hurley said the soldier was highly qualified with operational experience.

He said because the operation was still ongoing he could not give much detail.

But he said the soldier had been part of the Special Operations Task Group, which had been conducting a joint mission against an influential insurgent network in an area bordering Oruzgan province.

He was clearing a compound when it was blown up.

The soldier had combat experience and was described by his commanding officer as "exceptional, genuine, honest and dedicated".

General Hurley said the latest fatality was a "solemn reminder" of the dangers troops faced in Afghanistan every day.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the soldier's death was showed that Afghanistan remained a dangerous place but the international mission remained on track.

Ms Gillard offered her condolences to the family and friends of the soldier.

“What is clear is we have lost a brave soldier who was going about difficult and dangerous work in Afghanistan. That is clear to us," Ms Gillard said.

She said the mission to prepare Afghan national forces to take over security responsibility from Australian and coalition forces remained on track despite the dangers.

“Our predictions of Oruzgan province is that there will still be active fighting needed against the insurgency,” she said.

“What we are seeking to do is to build up the capability of Afghan forces so they can take the fight to the insurgents. And we are on track with that training mission.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said all Australians would feel the loss of the soldier, who is the seventh Australian force member to die this year and the 39th since the mission began in 2001.

He is also the 19th special forces soldier to die in Afghanistan.

“Like all who have served our country, and who serve our country in the Australian Defence Force, he sought to make the world a safer place. All Australians honour him,” he said in a statement.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith expressed his condolences. “It is one of the terrible and tragic hazards and risks and consequence of our engagement in Afghanistan,” he said.

“We believe we are on track to transition to Afghan-led security responsibility overall in Oruzgan province over the next 12 to 15 months,” he said.

Greens leader Christine Milne also expressed her condolences. “The Greens once again urge the Government to bring our troops home as swiftly and safely as possible,” she said in a statement.

The West Australian

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