The exchange of gunfire that injured a New Zealand soldier in
Afghanistan involved three rounds being fired towards the New
Zealander from a lone Afghan soldier.
The "insider" attack, which occurred in Qargha, near Kabul at
about 5.30pm yesterday (New Zealand time), occurred as a New
Zealand soldier was being escorted from a meeting by two
Australian soldiers, said Defence Force chief, Lieutenant
General Rhys Jones.
The Kiwi received injuries to his foot.
When describing the attack, Lieutenant General Jones said the
trio had been fired on from a lone Afghan soldier who
appeared in the space between two buildings.
He opened fire without any warning and there was "no
indication of an argument or fighting beforehand," he said.
An Australian soldier was hit in the chest, but received only
superficial injuries as all three soldiers were wearing full
"[The soldier] hit one of the Australian escorts and injured
our person. The second Australian returned fire."
No information had yet been available about the Afghan
soldier, other than he had been critically injured, and
possibly killed," Lieutenant General Jones said.
"After he fired the three rounds, he then stood up and
started advancing closer towards the ... Australians and New
Zealander. It looked as if he had the intent to continue
The decision to shoot the Afghan soldier - who was about 15
metres away from the group - was the correct one in the
situation, Lieutenant General Jones said.
The New Zealander was involved with training of the Afghan
National Army Officer Academy and had been in Afghanistan for
about six weeks, Lieutenant General Jones said.
He had been doing a task in the adjacent Afghan unit and was
being escorted by two Australian force protection people when
they came under attack.
The sergeant, who the Defence Force would not name, had since
spoken with family members in New Zealand.
"He was hit in the foot. Initial assessment is some of the
shrapnel - as the bullet hit the chest of the Australian ...
the bullet disintegrated - went into the arm of the
Australian soldier that was hit. Another part of it went into
the foot [of the New Zealander]."
The New Zealand soldier was "doing well" and his injuries
have been classed as Category B, Lieutenant General Jones
Afghan forces have been apologetic about the incident, and
stress they do not want the attack to compromise trust
between New Zealand and local forces, he said.
At this point, the Defence Force would discuss with the New
Zealand Government whether the incident highlighted any major
problems in Afghanistan.
"Our first look is no. We are comfortable that this was in
the procedures and that security issues and events ... and
the training seemed to work well. At this stage, the
recommendation of the Government would look as if to say this
is just one of the risks that we have of operating,"
Lieutenant General Jones said
A decision on whether the injured Kiwi soldier would be
brought back to New Zealand "will be based on the medical
assessments, as well as our own assessments about how long it
would take for him to get fit for duty."
The Defence Force had also contacted the next of kin of all
New Zealanders serving in Afghanistan to notify them their
loved ones had not been injured in the attack, Lieutenant
General Jones said.