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Heavy Australian losses in Afghanistan

Heavy Australian losses in Afghanistan
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Australia has suffered its bloodiest day in Afghanistan since entering the conflict in late 2001.

Five soldiers were killed in two incidents over a 24 hour period.

Three were shot dead at close range by a man in an Afghan soldier’s uniform at a base in Uruzgan.

Two special forces soldiers in neighbouring Helmand province were killed when their helicopter crashed.

It brings to 38 the number of Australian troops killed there since the conflict began, and is the country’s biggest combat loss since the Vietnam War.

The Vice-chief of the Australian Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, told reporters: “Australia’s lost five men today. They were soldiers who were committed to serving our nation. I cannot begin to describe the overwhelming grief their families are experiencing.”

A rise in the number of so-called green-on-blue killings has increased pressure on coalition countries to speed-up plans to withdraw from Afghanistan. Most are due to leave by 2014.

Australia’s prime minister has ruled out an early exit despite the latest deaths.