1 Sep 2012

Gillard rejects calls to bring troops home early

5:41 pm on 1 September 2012

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, has firmly rejected calls to bring Australian troops home early from Afghanistan following the deaths of five Australian soldiers in one day there.

The Australian Green Party and an independent MP have called for the immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, the ABC reports.

Ms Gillard says returning the troops early would be handing a strategic victory to the Taliban.

"After all that we have been through, and all that we have lost, and all that we have done in Afghanistan, I cannot countenance leaving before the mission is completed.

"And I cannot and will not countenance giving a strategic victory to people who have made it their work to kill Australian soldiers."

Three soldiers were killed by a man in an Afghan army uniform in a "green on blue" attack at a base in Uruzgan Province in the south of the country on Wednesday. An Afghan National Army sergeant shot them at close range with an automatic weapon at a patrol base in the Baluchi Valley.

In the second incident, two special forces soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed in Helmand province early on Thursday, the ABC reports.

Australian troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.