A second New Zealand SAS soldier has been killed in Afghanistan, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.
In a press conference at Parliament featuring Key, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp and Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, Key said the soldier was shot during an operation in Wardak province, near Kabul, this morning (NZ time).
Key expressed his condolences to the man’s family and the entire Defence Force.
“I deeply regret the loss of our soldiers but I don’t regret the commitment we’ve made to Afghanistan,” he said.
Jones said the operation was still ongoing and the name of the soldier would not be released for 24 hours. The soldier had received a head wound and had been evacuated by helicopter, but died while being operated on.
He was shot during an exchange of rifle fire involving 15 Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers.
Jones said the SAS were reacting to information about a team preparing to launch an attack on Kabul.
The operation began at 9am (NZ time) and one child and a ”fighting-aged” male were also injured.
Key said the SAS faced volatile and dangerous conditions in order to help the people of Afghanistan.
”They are brave, resourceful and resilient and they are making a valuable contribution in Afghanistan.
”He paid the highest price for his service to this country and we will mourn his death.”