Australian soldier killed in gun battle with Taliban in Afghanistan

Other News Materials 5 July 2011 06:01 (UTC +04:00)

A veteran Australian soldier was killed in Afghanistan and another wounded in a firefight overnight, the defence chief said Tuesday, dpa reported.

The death of Sergeant Todd Langley, 35, brought the number of Australian troops killed in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001 to 28. Seven have died this year.

General David Hurley, who took over as chief of the Australian Defence Force Monday, said in Canberra that Langley was shot in the head during a firefight with Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan.

Langley was on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan as part of the 2nd Commando Regiment. He had two medals for distinguished service.

A second soldier, who was not identified, was wounded and taken to a military hospital in Kandahar in serious but stable condition.

Hurley gave no details of the firefight, including its location, saying the operation with Afghan forces was ongoing.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australia was facing a "tough period" but being in Afghanistan was in Australia's national interest.

She said it was hard work countering the insurgency in Afghanistan but added Australia should anticipate being involved in Afghanistan "to the end of the decade at least."