Fallen soldier to be evacuated to NZ

21:53, August 05, 2010      

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An Air Force Boeing 757 has now been dispatched to pick up the body of Lieutenant Tim O' Donnell, the first New Zealand soldier to die in Afghanistan since this country sent its first troops to the war-ravaged country in 2003.

The 757 is in Malaysia awaiting entry into Dubai where it will collect the body of O'Donnell, and the other two injured Kiwi soldiers, Lance Corporal Matthew Ball, 24, and Private Allister Baker, 23, reported TVNZ.

Commander Joint Forces Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell said on Thursday afternoon the soldiers could be home on Saturday morning.

Stockwell said Lt O'Donnell died in the initial blast, not the ensuing gunfire.

He said the bombers who killed the NZ soldier "may never be known".

And he added that the two other Kiwis, and the Afghan interpreter, were extremely lucky to have survived that blast.

There was no clear evidence of whether the insurgents were from the Taliban.

Lt O'Donnell, 28, was farewelled from Afghanistan on Thursday morning in a simple but sombre and poignant ceremony in Bamiyan township.

New Zealand Defense Force now faces the sombre task of organizing what could be one of the largest military funerals New Zealand has ever seen.

Source: Xinhua


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