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Terrorism & Security

Afghanistan war: More insider attacks hand Australia worst casualties since Vietnam

Five Australian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan yesterday and today, including three apparently murdered by Afghan Police forces.

By Staff writer / August 30, 2012

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Europe Editor

Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor.  He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog.  He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.

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Australia's military suffered its worst 24-hour period of losses since the Vietnam War after five of its soldiers were killed in Afghanistan yesterday and today, including three murdered in an apparent "green-on-blue" attack – a trend that has seen significant growth this year.

The Australian Associated Press reports that three Australians were killed and two injured yesterday when a man in an Afghan National Army uniform opened fire on members of the Australian Mentoring Task Force Five at a patrol base in the southern province of Uruzgan. Two more were killed today when the US helicopter they were riding in rolled over upon landing in Helmand Province.

"It is a terrible day for all of us and our thoughts and prayers are for all those who are touched by these incidents," Air Marshal Mark Binskin told reporters in Canberra.

The death toll is Australia's highest in a 24-hour period since August 1966, when 18 of its troops were killed and 21 wounded in the Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam.

But while drawing comparisons with Long Tan, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the losses would not dissuade Australia from seeing out its mission in Afghanistan, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

A visibly emotional Ms. Gillard pledged Australia cannot have its war aims dictated by ''even the most grievous of losses'' after the worst bloodshed for Australians in combat in decades.

"We are making progress. I can tell you that, I've seen it with my own eyes when I have visited Afghanistan,'' she said.

The Morning Herald notes that the Uruzgan attacker escaped.


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