NZ troops evacuate bombed Afghan police

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 11:35 12/07/2012

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New Zealand troops have helped evacuate injured Afghan police after five officers were killed in a road side bomb attack in the Bamiyan province.

The attack occurred on Sunday night when a two-vehicle convoy of Afghan National Police (ANP) struck the improvised explosive device in the Shikari Valley in the north-east of the province.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said no New Zealand troops, who are based there as part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), were caught up in the attack.

The troops rushed to the scene to secure the area and assisted the injured who were flown by helicopter to Bagram, a large United States military base north of the capital Kabul.

It is unclear how many police officers were injured.

Coleman offered his sympathies to the Provincial Governor of Bamiyan and the Police Chief for the loss of life "at a time when the ANP in Bamiyan are taking more responsibility for security in the province".

The PRT has been helping to boost the capacity of local police forces in Bamiyan by training the ANP's provincial quick reaction force.

It is due to formally conclude its work in Bamiyan at the end of this year and will be withdrawn later in 2013.

The Government has said a small number of training officers would remain to assist the Afghan National Army Officer Academy and has made a three-year commitment of $US2 million per year for the Afghan National Security Force's rule of law projects in the province.

Bamiyan is regarded as the most secure part of Afghanistan, but there has been a history of insurgents coming across the north-eastern boundary and planting bombs in the province.

It is understood there are several small insurgent groups on the other side of the Bamiyan border.

In August 2010, 28-year-old Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell was killed when his three-vehicle patrol was attacked with explosives, rocket propelled grenades and gunfire, also in the north-east of Bamiyan.

Two other soldiers, Lance Corporal Matthew Ball and Private Allister Baker, and a local interpreter, were injured.

Bamiyan was the first province to hold a transition ceremony in July 2011, marking the transfer of provincial level security and responsibility back to Afghan control.

The international news service, Afghan Voice Agency, has reported four people suspected of planting mines in Bamiyan were today arrested.

The roadside bomb comes as there was a series of attacks across Afghanistan in the past two days which killed dozens of people, including six US troops.

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The US troops were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb Sunday in Wardak province, west of Kabul, the Washington Post reported.

Twenty-three civilians were also killed on Sunday in multiple blasts in the Arghistan district of southern Kandahar.

There were three separate attacks Kandahar on Monday. One attack on the police headquarters and a local market killed three police officers and six civilians.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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