Monday, June 7, 2010

Leaders express condolences over Digger deaths

A medic with the U.S. Army comforts an injured Canadian soldier  with the 1st RCR Battle Group, The Royal Canadian Regiment, after  landing for his medical evacuation outside Salavat, in the Panjwayi  district, southwest of Kandahar, Afghanistan, Monday, June 7, 2010. The  Canadian soldier was injured from an IED during a patrol earlier. IEDs  have been the single biggest cause of death among Canadian troops in  Afghanistan. Seven out of nine Canadian deaths this year were the result  of IED blasts.

THE nation's political leaders have expressed their remorse and passed on condolences to the families of two Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said all Australians would mourn the loss of two soldiers killed in southern Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device yesterday morning, Afghanistan time.

Mr Rudd also used the occasion to say it was important that Afghanistan did not return to an operating base for terrorists from around the world.

The two soldiers, on their first tour of Afghanistan were both from a Brisbane-based regiment and are the first Australians to die in 11 months, bringing the total number of campaign deaths to 13.

"Today the nation mourns the loss of two brave soldiers of Australia," Mr Rudd said in Sydney.

"This is an enormous loss for their families and their loved ones.

"On behalf of the government and the people of Australia I extend to them our deepest condolences and our deepest sympathies.

"Our prayers and our thoughts are with them on a day of incredible personal loss."

Opposition leader Tony Abbott described the incident as a "tragedy" and said it served as a reminder of how dangerous conditions were in the war-torn country.

"This is a terrible tragedy," Mr Abbott said in Western Sydney.

"It's a tragedy for their families. It's a tragedy for our country.

"It shows just how dangerous is the work that our armed forces are doing in Afghanistan.

"It's very dangerous work but it is a very important cause and I know that all Australians will be reaching out for the families of those killed soldiers in their hour of terrible need and grief."

This was a sentiment shared by the Prime Minister who also said the incident was a "sobering reminder" about the dangerous job that Australian soldiers were performing in Afghanistan.

"It is a sobering reminder that we are up against a terrible and dangerous enemy.

"It is a sobering reminder that for Australia our mission is important to ensure that Afghanistan does not return to an operating base for terrorists around the world.”

Mr Rudd said he thought the current troop commitment to Afghanistan was "right".

The Prime Minister also rejected suggestions the war was being lost and resolved that he would stay the course until Australia had completed "the mission" in Afghanistan.

"We are making progress in our part of Afghanistan and more broadly," he said.

"However, under no circumstances can Australians allow Afghanistan to become a free, operating training base for terrorist organisations in the future.

"Our resolve must be firm and we must complete the mission that we have set for ourselves in that particular province in Afghanistan."


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