Taliban leader linked to NZ deaths killed

Corporal (CPL) Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal (LCPL) Jacinda Baker, and Private (PTE) Richard Harris. Photo / Supplied A senior Taliban leader thought to be behind a roadside bombing in which three New Zealand soldiers died has reportedly been killed by coalition forces.

Prime Minister John Key today confirmed Abdullah Kalta died in the Afghanistan airstrike.

New Zealand soldiers Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, Private Richard Harris and Corporal Luke Tamatea were killed in August when their Humvee struck an improvised explosive device.

New Zealand personnel were not involved in the attack on Kalta but coalition forces could have used intelligence gathered by New Zealand SAS troops, Mr Key said on TVNZ's Breakfast show.

"We weren't physically involved but it was almost certainly intelligence that New Zealand people have been gathering over there.

"It was in the northeastern part of Bamiyan province. If that is the case, and that seems to be the information we have, then I think that's good news if it makes Afghanistan a safer place for our people."

Mr Key said the attack on Kalta happened last week and he did not know if the families of the dead soldiers had been told yet.

He said the main aim was to make the environment safe and it was understood further attacks on the Taliban were planned.

"We're in a war zone and ultimately we need to make sure that our men and women are best protected as we can and that means using intelligence and if required making sure that those who are undertaking those attacks aren't in a position to do so."

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