PM to attend soldiers' funeral

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 10:23 24/08/2012

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Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he will attend a military funeral tomorrow for the latest three Kiwi soldiers to be killed in Afghanistan.

The memorial service for Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris will be held at Burnham Military Camp, south of Christchurch, tomorrow afternoon.

Key will attend, along with Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman, a parliamentary spokesman said.

Key and Mateparae will give speeches, as will Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, army representatives from the soldiers' respective units and family representatives.  

The soldiers' bodies will then be returned to their families for private funeral services.

The three soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Bamiyan province on Sunday.

Their bodies were returned to New Zealand yesterday, and a poignant ramp ceremony was held at Christchurch International Airport as their caskets were carried on to home soil.

Baker, 26, a medic from Christchurch, was the first female Kiwi soldier to be killed in action for at least 77 years.

The deaths came only two weeks after lance corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, both 26, were killed in action in Bamiyan, bringing the total number of Kiwi soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 10.

Defence communications group Major John Gordon said rehearsals for the service were being held at the Burnham camp today.

He said each service was "unique to the situation" and final details on what would happen at the service had yet to be confirmed.

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- The Press

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