27 Aug 2012

PM dismisses Taliban threat

7:23 pm on 27 August 2012

Prime Minister John Key has dismissed threats against New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan as propaganda, saying they haven't been authenticated by the Government.

Five New Zealand soldiers have died there this month.

Mr Key says it seems the first two soldiers who died took the insurgents by surprise but the latest three do appear to have been targeted directly.

A Taliban spokesperson says New Zealanders are being targeted in Afghanistan; there is no safety for them there; and if they are found by the Taliban, they will be killed.

Mr Key says he's not sure whether those comments are in fact genuine. "We can't confirm that they are genuine. There's a degree of propaganda from what we can see about them.

"We are in a war zone in Afghanistan, and ... you can rest assured that the military via the Chief of Defence Force are doing everything they possibly can within the context of that environment to try and make sure our people are as safe as possible."

Bamyan operation intensifying -Taliban

The Taliban says it has a new base and more fighters in Bamyan province in Afghanistan and its men are poised to strike at New Zealand soldiers there.

It warns many more New Zealand soldiers will be killed if they are not withdrawn from the country immediately.

Through an interpreter, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told a Radio New Zealand correspondent in Kabul that there will be more attacks on New Zealand soldiers.

While the Taliban has ''no enmity'' with New Zealand, he says New Zealand has stood alongside the Taliban's enemy and is being treated as an invader.

He says the New Zealand Government and military know they will face more attacks.

The Taliban spokesperson says mujahideen (holy warriors) were given different objectives and targets during winter and the summer offensive is broader than any in the past.