From: Defence Media Centre
Sent: Sun 30/10/2011 2:01 PM

Three Australian Soldiers killed, seven wounded in Forward Operating Base shooting incident

The Australian Defence Force is mourning the loss of three soldiers who were killed in action when a member of the Afghan National Army (ANA) opened fire with an automatic weapon at Forward Operating Base in southern Afghanistan yesterday afternoon (Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time).

Seven Australian soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

The incident occurred during a weekly parade held by the 6th Kandak of the Afghan National Army’s 4th Brigade and their Australian mentors.

Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley said both the killed and wounded soldiers’ next of kin have been notified.

“It is difficult to find words that adequately reflect the profound sense of sorrow and loss,” he said.

“On behalf of the entire Defence community, I extend our deepest sympathies to the three soldiers’ families, friends and comrades.”

Initial reporting indicated a member of the 6th Kandak turned his weapon on the Australians shortly after the conclusion of the parade.

“At this time the motive for the shooting is unknown but I can confirm Australian troops, including some of those who were wounded, engaged the gunman who was subsequently shot and killed,” General Hurley said.

One Afghan interpreter was also killed. Two other Afghan interpreters and an ANA soldier were wounded.

The wounded were treated by Australian personnel at the scene before being evacuated by helicopter to nearby ISAF medical centres for emergency treatment.

As of this morning one Australian soldier is being treated for life-threatening wounds, four are being treated for serious wounds and another two are being treated for minor wounds.

It is likely that the most seriously wounded Australian personnel will be moved to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany in the coming days for further treatment.

Combined Australian and Afghan investigations into the shooting incident are now underway and the Commanding Officer of Mentoring Task Force -3, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Smith, and the Commander of the 4th Brigade, 205 (Hero) Corps of the Afghan National Army, Brigadier General Mohammed Zafar Khan, have moved to the scene.

“Brigadier General Mohammed Zafar Khan ordered the disarming of all 6th Kandak personnel and confined all members to their barracks and enhanced security measures have also been implemented at the base,” General Hurley said.

“I also want to assure you that we are taking the necessary steps to protect our Australian personnel on the ground in Afghanistan but it is critical that we show restraint and reserve our judgments until an investigation is complete.

“Our troops in Afghanistan are in shock and they are in pain, but they are tough and resilient Australian soldiers and I know they will find the strength and determination to continue their mission and honour their mates.”

Defence will provided updates on this incident as they come to hand.

32 Australian soldiers have been killed during operations in Afghanistan.

209 Australian Defence Force members have been wounded during operations in Afghanistan.

44 Australian Defence Force members have been wounded in Afghanistan during 2011.

Media contact:

Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999