Two N.Z. Soldiers Killed in Afghan Clash, Raising Toll to 7

Two New Zealand soldiers were killed in a firefight with insurgents in the central Afghan province of Bamyan, raising the nation’s military death toll from the conflict to seven, the government said today.

The clash began at 7 p.m. New Zealand time last night when troops went to aid local security forces under attack, Prime Minister John Key said, adding two Afghan security personnel died in the fighting. Six New Zealand soldiers were wounded in the battle in the northeast of the province, while 10 local security officers and a civilian were hurt, he said.

The deaths underscore “the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the province,” Key said in a statement on the government’s website today. “It is with enormous sadness that I acknowledge that these soldiers have paid the highest price.”

The South Pacific nation of 4.4 million people has about 140 soldiers in Bamyan province, central Afghanistan, undertaking reconstruction work. Foreign Minister Murray McCully said in May the force will be withdrawn in 2013, about a year earlier than previously planned.

Two New Zealand Special Air Service personnel, part of a contingent training a unit of the Afghan Army, were killed in August and September last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at mheath1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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