While it is important for NZ to contribute to coalition forces, the long-term stability of Afghanistan and benefit to that country remain uncertain.
The two deaths on Saturday, bring New Zealand’s total number of fatalities in Afghanistan since the war began to seven.
The New Zealand Defence Force reported Sunday that the soldiers were killed near the town of Do Abe, in central Bamiyan province, as they came to the aid of local security forces who were under attack. Two Afghan security officers were also killed and seven others injured. Bamiyan province had earlier been identified as of low Taliban risk.
“This is a reminder of the dangers our soldiers face,” New Zealand Prime Minister John Key told reporters Sunday. “These soldiers have paid the highest price, and my thoughts are with their family and friends.”
Three of the injured soldiers remained in a serious condition in a military hospital. The other three had moderate injuries.
Lt. Gen Rhys Jones, the chief of the Defence Force, said Afghan forces requested help from the New Zealand soldiers after being ambushed on their way to make a planned arrest. The insurgents killed two Afghan officers and took refuge in a building, Jones said.
As the New Zealand soldiers attempted to secure the area, they were attacked by a second group of insurgents, Jones said. One of the soldiers died when insurgents hit his armored vehicle with a rocket-propelled grenade while the second was killed by insurgent gunfire.
Jones said about 17 insurgents escaped carrying several dead and wounded comrades. New Zealand forces captured one insurgent, who will be turned over to Afghan authorities, he added.
Jones said the two soldiers killed Saturday will not be named until Monday to give their families time to grieve privately.
Can Afghanistan remain stable, after military forces withdraw? Add your say.