11 Jul 2010

Australian PM continues to back Afghan war

1:37 pm on 11 July 2010

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she believes the death of another soldier in Afghanistan will make Australians more determined to get the job done there.

Ms Gillard acknowledged the latest death will have some Australians questioning the Afghan mission.

Private Nathan Bewes, 23, was killed by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in the Chora Valley region of Uruzgan province.

The ABC reports he was the sixth Australian soldier killed in just over a month and the 17th since the war began.

Despite the rising Australian death toll, Ms Gillard says she is determined to see the Australian mission in Afghanistan succeed.

"We pursue that mission because Afghanistan has been a safe haven for terrorists, for terrorists who have wreaked acts of violence against Australians in 9/11 and in Bali," she said.

Ms Gillard says people at the funerals of soldiers she has attended have told her they want the mission to continue.

"Loss actually increases their determination to get the job done," she said.

Ms Gillard also said there is little that can be done to reduce the danger for soldiers in Afghanistan.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says roadside bombs are becoming an increasing problem for troops in Afghanistan.