8 Apr 2012

NZ soldier's body returned home

2:32 pm on 8 April 2012

The body of the fifth New Zealand soldier to die in Afghanistan has been brought home.

Corporal Douglas Hughes, 26, sustained an injury while off duty and was flown to Bagram Air Base where he died on Tuesday, the Defence Force says.

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Corporal Hughes' body was flown back from Afghanistan on an Air Force Hercules, which arrived in Auckland on Saturday.

It was met by Corporal Hughes' family, the Chief of the Defence Force, other senior military officials and members of his battalion.

Corporal Hughes had been serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team and was near the end of his six month deployment.

In a statement, Corporal Hughes' family say they are relieved to have him back in the country.

They say their focus now is to ensure he gets the farewell he deserves.

Corporal Hughes' body will lie at the family marae in Kaikohe before his tangi on Thursday.

The Defence Force is not revealing the nature of his injuries, other than to say they weren't combat-related.

His death brings to five the number of Defence Force members who have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2003.

Two soldiers have been killed during operations in Bamyan, one in 2010 and one last year, and two members of the SAS were killed last year in insurgent attacks in the capital Kabul.