27 Nov 2012

Pre-emptive strike kills insurgent linked to Bamyan attacks

6:00 am on 27 November 2012

The Defence Force says a Taliban commander who targeted New Zealanders in Afghanistan was killed to prevent an imminent attack against Afghan forces..

Abdullah Kalta, a Taliban leader in a district of Baghlan province, was held responsible for the deaths of four New Zealand soldiers in earlier attacks in Bamyan province.

He was killed in a coalition air strike at Karimak village in Kahmard district, in the northeast of Bamyan province, on 21 November.

The Defence Force says there were five insurgent casualties, including Kalta, in the strike, which was authorised by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to prevent an imminent rebel attack against Afghan security forces.

ISAF says Kalta was behind the roadside bomb that killed New Zealand's Lance-Corporal Jacinda Baker, Corporal Luke Tamatea and Private Richard Harris in August 2012.

ISAF says he was also responsible for an attack on a New Zealand patrol in which Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell was killed in August 2010.

ISAF spokesperson, US Air Force Captain Dan Einert, told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme that Kalta was responsible for much of the insurgent activity in Baghlan province and neighbouring Bamyan.

Jon Stephenson, a New Zealand journalist in Kabul, told Morning Report Kalta was by all accounts a resourceful and well informed insurgent leader, who was reportedly behind an attack on district offices as recently as September.

The Returned and Services Association national president Don McIver says the defence community grieved deeply for its four soldiers, and the news will bring it some relief.