Two Australian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in two separate incidents.
In the first incident, which occurred yesterday afternoon Australian time, a member of the Mentoring Task Force was shot by an Afghan National Army soldier.
The Australian Army soldier and the Afghan National Army soldier were undertaking guard duty at a patrol base north of Tarin Kot at the time of the incident.
Despite receiving substantial medical treatment at the base, and being airlifted to a nearby ISAF medical facility at Tarin Kot in well under an hour, the Australian soldier died from his wounds.
The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said the Afghan National Army soldier fled the scene and remains at large.
“We will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and work closely with our 4th Brigade partners to develop a clear understanding of what has occurred and what, if anything, can be done to prevent such an incident happening again,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
“We remain committed to our mentoring role and I can’t stress highly enough the importance of the Mentoring Task Force to achieving our mission in Afghanistan.”
In the second incident, which occurred a few hours after the shooting, an Australian Army Officer was killed when an Australian Chinook Helicopter crashed while undertaking a re-supply mission in Zabul Province.
An American Chinook was in close proximity and the crew landed and provided immediate medivac assistance for the most seriously wounded soldier to the Role II facility in Qalat, 70 km to the south of the crash site.
Unfortunately, the Officer could not be saved. The other five Australians onboard the helicopter were subsequently evacuated to the Role III medical facility at Kandahar and they are in a satisfactory condition.
There is no obvious cause for the incident at this early stage, however, an investigation is being initiated.
Air Chief Marshal Houston said the families of both the soldiers had been notified and they had asked that the personal details of their loved ones not be released at this time.
“On behalf of all the men and women of the Australian Defence Force, I offer my condolences for their loss,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
“Though I can’t ease their grief at this very sad time, I want them to know the ADF will be there to provide comfort and support as their loved ones are laid to rest.
“I hope they are able to draw some comfort from the knowledge they are in the thoughts and prayers of so many Australians who are grateful for the service of their loved ones to our nation.”
TRANSCRIPT: PRESS CONFERENCE WITH CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCE AND MINISTER FOR DEFENCE