Australia experienced its worst loss of members of its armed forces since the 1970s this week in Afghanistan. Five soldiers, working with the NATO-U.S. led coalition were killed. The deaths prompted the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, to cut short her stay at a regional conference of Pacific leaders to return to Australia.
The NATO coalition forces said three of the troops from Australia were killed Wednesday when a man wearing an Afghan army uniform approached them and then shot and killed them. In 2012, 45 coalition troops have been murdered in rogue shootings. Later in the day, officials from Australia said the other two soldiers killed were killed in crash of a helicopter in southern Afghanistan Thursday afternoon.
Australia’s Prime Minister was visibly emotional when she said that tragic news would shock all of Australia. She then told reporters her visit to the conference would end on Thursday afternoon at which time she would fly home to Australia.
Pressure due to the huge increase in the amount of rogue killings has prompted some of the NATO members to want to withdraw their troops earlier than what is planned. The current timeframe for withdrawal of the majority of troops in the country is before the end of 2014.
Polls that have been taken recently in Australia show overwhelmingly that the majority of Australians want to have their troops pulled from Afghanistan, although the Prime Minister said they would not leave earlier than was plan by NATO. Last week three troops from New Zealand were killed by a bomb alongside the road and that prompted officials from the country to announce they would speed up the timetable of their troops leaving the country.