Australian military suffers worst day since Vietnam

Five Australian troops were killed in two separate incidents in Afghanistan in what Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday described as the nation's deadliest day in combat since the Vietnam War.

The deaths, which included three killings in an "insider attack" by an Afghan solider, brought to 38 the number of Australian lives lost in the conflict.

"This is a very big toll... this is our single worst day in Afghanistan," said Gillard, who cut short a trip to the Pacific Islands Forum to return home and deal with the fallout.

"Indeed this is the most lost in combat since the days of the Vietnam War."

Australia's acting defence chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin said the first incident occurred inside a patrol base near Tirin Kot in the restive southern Uruzgan province where about 1,500 Australian troops are deployed.

In the second, two Australian special forces soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed in Helmand province.

Taliban insurgents claimed to have shot the aircraft down.

"Last night in Baghran district of Helmand province mujahideen (holy warriors) shot down a big logistics helicopter during fighting. Several foreigners were killed," Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said on his Twitter account.

The Taliban regularly exaggerate their battlefield operations.

"Three Australian soldiers from the 3RAR task group were shot and killed when an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform opened fire with an automatic weapon from close range," Binskin told reporters.

The dead soldiers were aged 40, 23, and 21 and were relaxing at the end of the day when the Afghan opened fire, he added.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his condolences over the incident.

"The attacks by Afghan security forces on foreign forces that have been happening recently, are the work of those who want to create distrust between Afghan national forces and their international allies," he said.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also offered his condolences.

The alliance has struggled to counter the so-called "green-on-blue" attacks in which uniformed Afghans turn their weapons against their international allies.

The assaults have spiked this year, with more than 30 attacks claiming the lives of 45 coalition troops, comprising about 14 percent of the overall death toll in the war for 2012, according to ISAF.

The latest deaths are the third "green-on-blue" incident involving Australian soldiers.

Gillard admitted the spate of "insider attacks" was making it difficult to build trust between Australians and the Afghans they are training.

"It is really difficult for our soldiers in the field," she said, but insisted she still had faith in the progress Australian troops were making in Afghanistan.

"Our strategy is well-defined, our strategy is constant, and we cannot allow even the most grievous of losses to change our strategy," she told reporters in the Cook Islands.

"We went there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through."

Australia is a close ally of the United States and its Afghan deployment began in 2001. Canberra later pulled out, only to redeploy in 2005.

Australia announced this year that it would begin withdrawing its forces in 2013, earlier than planned due to significant security gains and as Canberra has faced increased pressure over the long-running Afghan campaign.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Filipino, Vietnamese troops play games on Spratly island

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Filipino and Vietnamese troops played football and tug-of-war Wednesday to foster camaraderie at a Philippine-held island in the South China Sea, where territorial rifts have escalated following China's island-building activities. …

  • Philippine, Vietnamese troops play soccer and sing on disputed island

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - Vietnamese and Philippine troops played soccer and sang karaoke on a South China Sea island on Wednesday in a sign of the growing security ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most at odds with Beijing over the contested waterway. Cooperation has blossomed between Hanoi and Manila since they shelved decades of enmity over their competing claims in the Spratly archipelago to try to counter China, whose creation of artificial islands in the region …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Fall on renewed U.S. rate hike concerns

    BANGKOK, May 27 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian stock markets tumbled on Wednesday as investors resumed selling on expectations of an interest rate hike in the U.S. sooner rather than later, derailing Philippine ... …

  • Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute
    Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute

    As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan began its journey to Asian waters amid China’s power flexing in the region, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin would try to hear directly from his US counterpart how far America is willing to go to aid its long-time ally against China’s threatening moves in disputed waters. Gazmin flew to Hawaii last Monday to attend ceremonies for the turnover of leadership of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) from Admiral Samuel Locklear to Admiral Harry …

  • Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level
    Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level

    The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday. The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA. …

  • PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid
    PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid

    The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported yesterday that an estimated P3-billion charity fund has been allocated by Congress to the agency to provide medical assistance to indigent patients and also give funds to other government offices including the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Crop Insurance Program. …

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Mostly down; Thai shares near 2-week low

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most sharemarkets in Southeast Asia fell on Tuesday with the Thai index ending at a near two-week low and the Philippines touching a near four-week low after trade data while ... …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options