28 Oct 2013

Afghanistan shooting 'followed argument'

6:45 am on 28 October 2013

The wounding of a New Zealand and Australian soldier in Afghanistan was the result of an argument between coalition troops and an Afghan soldier outside a training academy, a New Zealand journalist says.

The soldier, a sergeant at the Kabul officer training academy, was with two Australians when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them. The bullet disintegrated as it hit the body armour of one of the Australian soldiers and some of the shrapnel hit his arm, while other fragments hit the New Zealander in the foot.

The attack occurred as New Zealand and Australian troops were meeting trainee Afghan officers in the Qargha region, west of Kabul, on Saturday.

Citing a senior Afghan military official, journalist Jon Stephenson says an Afghan guard seized a laptop from another Afghan leaving the academy.

He says two Australians and the New Zealand sergeant said they would take the computer back in. When the Afghan guard refused, a heated verbal clash took place, the guard was sworn at, and he retaliated by shooting at the group.

Mr Stephenson says the Afghan military is conducting an investigation but its account differs from that of the New Zealand Defence Force.

The New Zealander was treated at the scene and then taken to Craig Hospital at Bagram Air Force Base, where he received further medical treatment. The Australian soldier wounded in the shooting had returned to duty on Sunday.


The New Zealand Defence Force does not believe changes are needed to its security arrangements following the attack.

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones says he will discuss with Cabinet whether the level of protection for New Zealand soldiers is adequate, but it does not appear changes are needed.

"At this stage ... we're comfortable that this was in the procedures and that security issues and events that we've set up and the training seemed to work well."

The Defence Force says most of the remaining New Zealand soldiers are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.

Former Defence Force head Sir Bruce Ferguson says Afghanistan remains a dangerous place and it would be crazy to withdraw the last New Zealand troops early.

"New Zealanders historically have not cut and run. We're there to do a mission and quite frankly if we were to start saying publicly that anything more and we'll pull out, well that's entirely the message that the Taliban would love to hear."