Image via WikipediaAnother Anzac soldier killed in Afghanistan - the 18th Australian killed there...
Just over a week after a Kiwi soldier, Lt Tim O'Donnell, was killed in Afghanistan, an Aussie special forces SAS trooper, Jason Thomas Brown, has also been killed there.
An Australian special forces soldier has been killed in a clash with insurgents, taking the Afghanistan death toll to 18 since 2001 and seven so far this year alone.
Trooper Jason Thomas Brown, 29, a member of the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), died from multiple gunshot wounds when insurgents opened fire on his patrol.
That occurred early on Saturday morning in northern Kandahar province, a hotspot for fighting and the focus of recent operations by the Australian Special Operations Task Group.
Acting defence force chief Lieutenant General David Hurley said Trooper Brown was participating in an ongoing Australian and Afghan mission to disrupt insurgent activities.
He died despite receiving immediate first aid and being evacuated by helicopter to the coalition hospital at Kandahar. No other Australian or Afghan soldiers were wounded.
Lieutenant General Hurley said Trooper Brown, unmarried with no children, was an outstanding soldier with just over 10 years service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Born in Sydney, he joined the army in 2001, serving with the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) and then with the commando battalion 4RAR. He joined the SASR in 2007.
This was his first deployment to Afghanistan but he had served three times in East Timor.
He leaves his parents and a sister.
Lieutenant General Hurley said Australian troops in Afghanistan faced significant threats every day and did so with professionalism and courage.
"When a member of the ADF family dies in the service of our country, it hits us all very hard," he told reporters.
Defence Minister John Faulkner said recent months had been a time of increasing danger in Afghanistan, but Australian soldiers continued to carry out their work with courage and professionalism in conditions of real hardship.
"I can assure Jason's family and friends that he, together with his mates, were striking at the heart of the Taliban insurgency as part of our mission in Afghanistan to make sure that extremists and international terrorist groups do not again find safe havens and training grounds in that country," he said.
Both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott briefly halted electioneering to express their condolences to Trooper Brown's family and friends.
In Wollongbar, northern NSW, Ms Gillard said she would contact Trooper Brown's family in due course.
She said Australia had lost a brave soldier and the nation would mourn his loss.
Ms Gillard said the government remained committed to the mission in Afghanistan, which was expected to take another two to four years.
"Our nation cannot see Afghanistan once again become a safe haven for terrorists ... who are trained, and trained to take the lives of Australians," she said.
In Perth, Mr Abbott said Afghanistan could never again become a safe haven for terrorism.
"It's important that Australia pull its weight in the world. The opposition continues to fully and strongly support the Australian commitment to Afghanistan," he said.
This is the first death of an Australian soldier during the campaign.
The death of Private Nathan Bewes came a little more than a week before the election was called.
The leaders of both major parties suspended their campaigns for a full day to attend Private Bewes' funeral in Murwillumbah on July 22.
Ms Gillard said they would do so again if Trooper Brown's funeral was held before election day.
Acknowledgements: Channel Nine