19 Jul 2011

NZ patrol unscathed in Bamyan explosion

10:28 pm on 19 July 2011

A bomb has exploded during a New Zealand patrol in Afghanistan's Bamyan province, but none of the soldiers was injured.

Commander Joint Forces NZ, Major General Dave Gawn, told Checkpoint the home-made bomb, known as an improvised explosive device, detonated during a regular patrol in the north eastern area of Bamyan province about 8pm local time.

He says it missed the Light Armoured Vehicles the soldiers were travelling in.

New Zealand defence and police personnel and civilian staff are serving in the New Zealand Reconstruction Provincial Team in Bamyan province.

The New Zealand Defence Force says troops there will continue to monitor the degree of danger and take appropriate measures. It say despite this attack, Bamyan province as a whole remains stable.

NATO this week handed control of the province to local forces. It is the first of seven areas to be passed to Afghan security forces under a plan announced by President Hamid Karzai in March.

The handover from NATO to Afghan forces is seen as a critical step in a transition of power before foreign troops end combat operations in 2014.

In March, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said there were about 140 New Zealand defence staff there and that number was unlikely to change for at least the next year.