Australian troop killed in Afghanistan: officials

An Australian soldier has been killed and another wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, the Defence Department said Thursday, upping the number of Australian troops killed in the conflict to 22.

“It’s with deep and sincere regret that I must inform you that an Australian soldier… has been killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan,” acting chief of the defence force, Lieutenant General David Hurley told reporters in Canberra.

“A second soldier was seriously wounded in the incident.”

Corporal Richard Edward Atkinson, 22, who was on his first deployment to Afghanistan, was killed on Wednesday while on patrol in Uruzgan’s Deh Rahwod — a region of southern Afghanistan at the heart of the Taliban-led insurgency.

Both men, members of the Darwin-based First Combat Engineer Regiment, were on a foot patrol with Afghan soldiers at the time of the incident.

The name of the wounded soldier was being withheld at the request of the family.

Last year was the deadliest on record for the 1,550-strong Australian deployment in Afghanistan, with almost half of the country’s total deaths since 2001.

The tactic of planting cheap and easily manufactured IEDs has caused a major spike in military and civilian casualties since it was imported from the conflict in Iraq.