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    NZ soldiers killed in Bamyan clash

    BAMYAN CITY (PAN): Two soldiers from New Zealand with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and four Afghan intelligence agents were killed in a daring militant attack in the central province of Bamyan, officials said on Sunday.

    National Directorate of Security (NDS) and NATO-led personnel were on their way to Shibar district for an operation against a local Taliban commander, Khwaja Abdullah, on Saturday evening when the rebels stormed their convoy in the Pul-i-Baghak area.

    Abdul Rahman Ahmadi, the governor’s spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News that two New Zealand soldiers and four NDS staffers were killed in the assault. Ten intelligence staffers, a policeman and a civilian were wounded.

    Two Taliban attackers were also killed and 15 others, including Abdullah, injured. A bother of the insurgent commander was detained with 400 kilograms of explosives, the spokesman added.

    Meanwhile, the New Zealand Defence Force announced that two of its soldiers were killed and six others wounded in the incident.

    But a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed they had killed four New Zealand soldiers and wounded as many others.

    He said Bamyan’s deputy spy chief was also killed along with three other employees of the department. He confirmed injuries to only two fighters in the gunbattle.

    New Zealand has 150 troops in Afghanistan, with most of them stationed in Bamyan within the ISAF framework. Since 2003, seven soldiers of the country have been killed in Afghanistan.

    Hours after the incident, New Zealand’s Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said the troops had arrived to assist the local security forces who encountered suspected insurgents near a village south of Do Aba.

    Prime Minister John Key, ruling out early troop pullout from the landlocked country, told journalists: "It's a day of great tragedy. For New Zealand, a small country, losing seven of our men is an enormous price to pay. It reinforces the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the province."

    myn/mud