24 Aug 2012

Commander disputes Afghanistan night patrol claim

1:00 pm on 24 August 2012

A Hungarian military commander says Prime Minister John Key's claim that Hungarian troops don't patrol at night in Afghanistan is upsetting and untrue.

After a rebel attack killed two New Zealand lance-corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone on 4 August, Mr Key criticised the lack of night patrols by Hungarian troops in the province next to Bamyan, where New Zealand's team is based.

Romulusz Ruszin, who commanded Hungary's Provincial Reconstruction Team from August 2011 until May this year, says his contingent patrolled more than 700 times, including at night.

But Colonel Ruszin admits an area near the Baghlan province border with Bamyan where insurgents are believed to live is patrolled about twice a month.

Those insurgents are thought to have been responsible for the deaths of three more New Zealand soldiers on Sunday.

Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance-Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris died instantly when their Humvee was blown up by a roadside bomb.

Colonel Ruszin says he has the greatest sympathy for the losses suffered by the New Zealand forces but says Hungarian forces in no way contributed to the losses.