Taliban mastermind of Kiwi soldier deaths, killed

Last updated 07:50 26/11/2012
Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, and Private Richard Harris, 21.

FALLEN: Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, and Private Richard Harris, 21.

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Three Kiwi soldiers killed in bomb attack

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A senior Taliban member believed to have been responsible for the deaths of three New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan had been planning another attack when he was killed, the prime minister says.

Abdullah Kalta died in a coalition air strike carried out by US and Afghan forces aided by New Zealand intelligence.

Kalta is believed to be a Taliban leader in Baghlan Province, but was responsible for a number of attacks in Bamiyan.

It was a roadside bomb in Bamiyan which killed Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, Corporal Luke Tamatea and Private Richard Harris on August 19.

"This guy has killed New Zealanders before and was planning to undertake further attacks," John Key told Radio Live.

Key told TVNZ he understood it was an Afghan-led mission.

He said the strike "almost certainly" used New Zealand intelligence "but not New Zealand people".

"I would have thought our presence has certainly helped increase the probability that he was eliminated as a threat to safety and security up there," Key told the radio station.

"You have to make sure you know exactly it's the right person in the right location, that they're on the list of people etc etc."

"The main issue here is trying to make the environment safe. So if we have known insurgents who've carried out attacks that have killed people and are planning other attacks - and my understanding was  this was an example of that where there was planning for further attacks to take place - then, we are in a war zone and ultimately we need to make sure that our men and women are  as best protected as we can.

"That means using intelligence, and if required, making sure that those who would undertake those attacks aren't in a position to do so," Key earlier told TVNZ.

 

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