29 Jun 2009

Another attack on NZ soldiers in Afghanistan

6:26 pm on 29 June 2009

There has been another attack on a New Zealand peacekeeping patrol in Afghanistan.

A vehicle on patrol triggered an explosion in the northwestern part of Bamyan province at 9pm local time on Sunday.

The device was detonated in front of a vehicle in a convoy, but caused no injuries or damage to the vehicle. It is not known how the device was set off or who was responsible.

The area was checked for any further threat following the attack before the patrol withdrew to a secure base at a local township.

Defence Force Captain Zac Prendegast told Checkpoint Bamyan province is becoming more tense ahead of national elections.

"The area they are working in is a more unsettled area, and as one of the colleagues told me there is a need to tread carefully. But it has been known by commanders for some time that we've anticipated an increase in insurgent activity leading up to the Afghanistan national elections."

Captain Prendegast says there are more patrols and meetings with police and other forces to keep security risks to a minimum.

Last Thursday, members of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team exchanged fire with insurgents during a 15-minute battle in Bamyan. No-one was injured.

Defence Force Air Vice-Marshall Pete Stockwell confirmed the battle was the first involving the New Zealand soldiers, who were in the village of Do Abe to help national police investigate two recent bomb attacks.