The two Kiwi soldiers killed in Afghanistan died in a "volley of fire" with one of them dying trying to help his commander.
Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer, 26, of Christchurch, and Lance Corporal Rory Malone, also 26, of Auckland, were killed in an attack on Saturday.
Six other soldiers were injured, with one being shot in the neck.
Lance Corporal Malone was killed helping his company commander. Lance Corporal Durrer died in a helicopter on the way to US Bagram airbase.
The pair, who were part of the provincial reconstruction team, were on their first deployment to Afghanistan.
Defence Force Chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said the NZ forces were not targeted but ran into trouble trying to protect bombmakers.
He said the soldiers were killed by a "volley of fire" after leaving their vehicles to "engage" the insurgents.
The NZ base at Do Abe was later attacked by up to 10 insurgents but no-one was hurt.
Lt Gen Jones said insurgents usually did not engage in a firefights with New Zealand troops because the Kiwi contingent had greater fire power,
He said the men's bodies were at the US Bagram air base near Kabul and would be brought home as soon as possible.
The names of the six wounded soldiers would not be released at this time.
United States media reported last night that a Taleban spokesman had claimed responsibility for the Afghan and New Zealand deaths, saying it was part of a spring offensive.
The deaths bring the total number of New Zealanders who have died in Afghanistan to seven.
The firefight in the northeast of Bamiyan province also claimed the lives of two members of the Afghan special police and injured 11 others.
Lt Gen Jones, said the troops had been called in to help local forces after the attempted arrest of an insurgent near Do Abe went wrong.
The New Zealanders moved to secure the area and came under fire from a separate group of insurgents.
Anti-tank weapons were used against the New Zealanders' armoured vehicles and the group fired on the Kiwis with machineguns and rifles.
Prime Minister John key said flags would fly at half mast for the funerals of the dead soldiers.
Durrer family statement
"Our family are going through a very difficult time after learning of Pralli's death in Afghanistan. Support we are receiving from our wider family, friends and Pralli's Army family has been encouraging and we are thankful that Pralli will be home with us soon.
"We are all thankful for the 26 years we had with Pralli and are proud of all that he accomplished in his short time with us. He has had a rewarding career as a soldier and we know he had a positive effect on all those he worked alongside throughout his time with NZ Army.
"We ask that the public and media please respect our privacy at this difficult time while we mourn the passing of our much loved nephew, grandson, son, cousin and friend.
"The details of Pralli's funeral will be released in due course and we ask that you remain patient while we organise the fitting farewell that he deserves."
Malone family statement
"We are very saddened by the loss of a much loved family member. Rory joined the Territorial Force on 7 November 2002 and then transferred to the Regular Force as a rifleman, RNZIR on 7 September 2005.
"He served with 2/1 RNZIR for most of his career, deploying to Timor-Leste twice before his deployment to Afghanistan.
"Rory's family is extremely proud of his service to the NZ Army. Rory went to Afghanistan to do what he considered an important job which contributed to the greater good of the region. He did his job with honour and pride. Rory will be dearly missed by his family.
"We extend our deepest sympathy to Rory's partner, and the family of the other lost soldier, as well as those who were wounded in the incident.
"We ask for privacy during this devastating time to deal with our grief and loss."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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