Australian soldier killed by bomb in Afghanistan

Last updated 16:40 22/10/2012

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Australia has lost another soldier, the 39th Australian Defence Force soldier to be killed in Afghanistan since 2002.

Australia defence minister Stephen Smith described the fallen digger as a 24-year old "brave, young, Australian soldier".

The special forces soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device (bomb) while on a partnered mission with Afghan forces in the bordering areas of Oruzgan Province.

The solider was killed instantly while clearing an insurgent compound.

No other Australian or Afghan personnel were killed or injured in the explosion.

Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley offered his "deepest sympathy" to the soldier's family, friends and ADF mates.

While the family of the soldier have asked that his personal details and service record is not yet released, the soldier was described as highly qualified and with operational experience.

His commanding officer described him as "an exceptional soldier who will be remembered as genuine, honest and dedicated".

General Hurley said the incident was a "solemn reminder of the dangers our servicemen and women face in Afghanistan each day".

The mission was conducted to disrupt an insurgent network. As it is still ongoing, General Hurley said he could not provide any further details about the location.

From Canberra, prime minister Julia Gillard offered condolences to the family and friends of the man.

"My very loving thoughts are with them at this time of great stress and distress to them," Gillard said.

Gillard said that the loss of the soldier would be mourned by the whole nation.

"The news of every loss is as hard as the news of the first loss," she said.

Gillard, who has recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan, said the morale of Australian troops there remained high.

Smith also expressed his condolences.

"Australia today suffers another terrible tragedy," he told reporters in Sydney.

He said that the government continued to believe that completing Australia's transition mission in Afghanistan was in the national interest.

"Transition continues to be on track. But that is not to say that our job is not difficult and dangerous," Smith said.

Australia currently has about 1550 troops deployed to Afghanistan.

In August, the ADF suffered its darkest day since the Vietnam War when it lost five soldiers in two separate incidents.

This included two soldiers in a helicopter accident in Helmand Province and three soldiers in a "green on blue" attack north of Tarin Kowt.

This comes as Australian troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan, as part of a broader transition from international to Afghan forces.

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While special forces - commandos and the SAS - will continue to undertake missions, all Australian regular troops are preparing to vacate the many small bases they have occupied, and in many cases built, in recent years by the start of next year.

Greens leader Christine Milne said the party's thoughts today were with the family and friends of the fallen soldier.

"I can only begin to imagine the pain that the family and friends are suffering," Milne said.

Milne repeated the Greens' position that Australian troops should be brought home from Afghanistan as "quickly and safely as possible".

- Sydney Morning Herald

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