KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) -- Suspected Taliban insurgents attacked security forces in central Afghanistan on Saturday, killing two coalition soldiers from New Zealand and two Afghan security personnel, officials said on Sunday. Eighteen others were injured.
The incident began at around 11:30 a.m local time when insurgents attacked Afghan security forces near a village south of Do Abe, located in Bamyan Province. Coalition service members from New Zealand were also attacked when they responded to the scene to assist the local security forces.
Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, chief of the New Zealand Defense Force, said two soldiers from New Zealand were killed while six others were wounded and evacuated to a military hospital in the region. He said two Afghan security personnel were also killed and twelve other people were injured, including eleven Afghan security personnel and one civilian.
"[This incident] reinforces the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the Province," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said. "It is with enormous sadness that I acknowledge that these soldiers have paid the highest price. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the two brave soldiers killed and also with the families and friends of those injured."
The New Zealand Defense Force said it would release the names of the Kiwi fatalities about 24 hours after next of kin have been informed. The deadly attack brings the total number of New Zealand soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to seven.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the Afghan security forces were agents of the country's domestic intelligence agency. "It took Mujahideen (Muslim fighters) combatants 30 minutes to take out four of the enemy agents and wound another 6, forcing the enemy to retreat with severest losses," he said, adding that two Taliban insurgents were slightly injured.
There are currently more than 129,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, including at least 152 New Zealand troops, according to data released by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in May. The majority of ISAF troops are from the United States and the United Kingdom.
The deaths on Saturday raise the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 274, according to official figures. A total of 566 ISAF troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2011, down from 711 in 2010. A majority of the fallen troops were American and were killed in the country's south, which is plagued by IED attacks on troops and civilians.
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