A 24-year-old Australian special forces soldier has been killed by an improvised explosive device during a mission to target insurgents in southern Afghanistan.
Chief of Defence General David Hurley told a Canberra press conference that the soldier, from the Special Operations Task Group, died late last night, Australian time.
He said the mission, being carried out with Afghan personnel, was still underway.
“The task group was conducting a disruption operation against an insurgent network that directly influences insurgent activity in Uruzgan,” General Hurley said.
“The soldier was clearing a compound when an IED detonated, killing him instantly.
“No other Australian or Afghanistan personnel were killed or wounded in the incident.
“The special operations mission remains ongoing so I cannot provide specific details about the location or the mission itself without risking the safety of this young man’s comrades.”
General Hurley said the mission was being carried out in “bordering areas” of Uruzgan province, where Australian troops last week took over responsibility from US forces.
The soldier’s next of kin have been informed but have asked that personal details are not released.
General Hurley said the dead soldier was “highly qualified … with operational experience.”
“On behalf of the Army and the Defence community, I offer my deepest sympathy to the soldier’s family and his friends,” he said.
“Our thoughts are also with his mates who remain in the field.”
The death brings the number of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2002 to 39. Seven have been killed so far this year.
Another Australian died while serving with the British Army.