The death of another Australian soldier will not change the country’s commitment to the war in Afghanistan, the prime minister said on Saturday.
Julia Gillard made the remarks after the announcement of the death of 23—year—old Pvt. Nathan Bewes, the sixth Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan in just over a month.
Bewes was killed just before midnight on Friday by a homemade bomb. A second soldier was wounded.
Ms. Gillard, in Darwin to attend the funeral of another soldier who died in a helicopter crash last month in Afghanistan, said the losses increased the determination of the soldiers serving in Afghanistan to get the job done.
“There will be Australians today who are asking themselves in the face of this loss why as a country do we continue to pursue our mission there,” she told reporters. “We pursue that mission because Afghanistan is a safe haven for terrorists. I believe Australia, while mourning these losses, will understand our continuing determination.”
Bewes was on his third deployment to Afghanistan.
“The army was his lifelong passion. It was all he wanted,” his family said in a statement.
Australia has some 1,500 troops in Afghanistan alongside NATO forces. The death takes Australia’s military death toll in Afghanistan to 17.