Australian soldier killed in IED blast


An Australian soldier patrolling with Afghan army troops was killed Monday by an improvised explosive device, officials said, the country’s 29th death in the decade-long conflict. The soldier, whose identity is yet to be released, was killed when a makeshift device went off during a mentoring night patrol with the Afghan National Army, defence chief David Hurley told reporters.
Hurley said the experienced soldier was seriously wounded in the blast, which happened around 2.30am local time, and he could not be saved despite being rushed to a nearby base hospital.
“Unfortunately the soldier died from his wounds shortly after arrival,” Hurley said. Another soldier from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) — not an Australian — was wounded in the incident. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australia’s mentoring of Afghan soldiers, with the goal of handing over full security responsibility by the end of 2014, was dangerous but vital work to ensure stability once foreign troops withdrew.
“Without an effective and capable national army security post-transition cannot be guaranteed,” Gillard said.
“This fighting season in Afghanistan has been a very hard one for our nation, we’ve grieved for too many young lives lost,” she added. “I can’t promise the Australian people that there won’t be another day like this, but I can promise that we are making progress (and) that Australia’s national interests are being served by being in Afghanistan.” Gillard said Canberra had a “clear goal, a defined mission and a timeline” for withdrawal, with the transition to Afghan control already taking place in some areas.