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Incident in Afghanistan.

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Issued by Ministerial Support and Public Affairs, Department of Defence, Canberra, ACT Phone: 02 6265 3343, Fax: 02 62656946

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MSPA 045/09 Friday, 13 February 2009

Incident in Afghanistan

In the early hours of Thursday morning, 12 February 2009, soldiers of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) conducted clearance operations through a number of compounds of interest in Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

During the conduct of this operation the soldiers were fired upon by Taliban insurgents. The SOTG engaged the insurgents, returning fire in accordance with their rules of engagement.

No Australians were injured in the engagement, but a number of people have been killed and wounded during this incident. Current reporting indicates that those killed include a suspected insurgent and, sadly, local nationals including five children killed, and two children and two adults injured.

The injured have been treated on site and evacuated to medical facilities for further assessment and treatment if required.

The Australian Defence Force has commenced an investigation into this incident.

Defence is obviously concerned about any loss of life. It is for this reason that Australian forces operate under strict Rules of Engagement that aim to avoid and minimise civilian casualties.

Australian Special Forces soldiers are continuing to conduct operations within unspecified areas in southern Afghanistan.

Defence will not provide further information on this incident at this stage, as operations are ongoing and release of additional information could jeopardise the safety of those who remain in the field.

Media contact: Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664