The families of the two New Zealand soldiers slain in Afghanistan on Saturday night say they are proud of their commitment to the army.
Lance Corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer, both 26, were killed after a fierce three-minute gun fight in a village near Do Abe, in the north east of Bamiyan Province.
They were deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Provincial Reconstruction team in April 2012.
The families of the men both released statements at a press conference today, expressing their loss and speaking of the commitment they had made to the armed forces.
"Rory's family is extremely proud of his service to the NZ Army. Rory went to Afghanistan to do what he considered an important job which contributed to the greater good of the region.
"He did his job with honour and pride. Rory will be dearly missed by his family," Malone's family said.
Durrer's family said: "We are all thankful for the 26 years we had with Pralli and are proud af all that he accomplished in his short time with us.
"He has had a rewarding career as a soldier and we know he had a positive effect on all those he worked alongside throughout his time with the NZ Army."
Malone, from Auckland, joined the Territorial Force in November 2002 and transferred to the Regular Force as a rifleman in September 2005. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in July 2011.
Durrer, from Christchurch, joined the New Zealand Army in June 2004 as a rifleman. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in September 2010.
Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman said the families could be "extremely" proud of the men's service records.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones again expressed his sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased on behalf of the NZDF.
"Both Lance Corporal Malone and Lance Corporal Durrer are now in Bagram Air Base while arrangements are made for their repatriation to New Zealand.
He said the NZDF hoped to have the fallen soldiers home by the middle of the week.
Both the families have asked for privacy and time to grieve by themselves.
Six other New Zealand soldiers were also wounded in the attack, and are recovering in hospital. Five of the men will be transferred to a hopsital in Germany. The other man, who was reportedly shot in the neck, is in a critical condition and will need a care unit to move with him once he is stable.
"We also wish the six wounded men a speedy recovery. they are in good hands and we are looking forward to them being safely back home," Coleman said.
The deaths are the first double fatality on Afghan soil that the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has suffered since the war began.
Keeping troops in Afghanistan
Prime Minister John Key said despite the soldiers being killed Kiwi troops would not leave Afghanistan earlier than planned.
The PRT has been in the Bamiyan Province for nine years. Earlier this year it was announced the team would be withdrawn from Afghanistan before the end of 2013.
The Prime Minister told TV ONE's Breakfast it is unlikely the date troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan will change as a result of the attack.
"I mean we mourn the loss of these two incredibly brave soldiers but in the end we've got 145 people there, we've been there since 2003 this is our 20th rotation so we've committed an awful lot in this part of Bamiyan to really try to make difference for the people of Bamiyan," he said.
"When we actually go is a bit of a subject to debate at the moment with the coalition forces but it will be in 2013."
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the New Zealand deaths and the deaths of four Afghan intelligence agents, with a spokesperson saying it was part of a spring offensive by a local insurgency, The Huffington Post and other United States media reported.
He said the attack could signal a show of strength from the Taliban "to undermine the confidence of the people of Bamiyan because they know New Zealand is leaving".
Soldiers ambushed by insurgents
The attack occurred yesterday morning in Do Abe, around 7pm New Zealand time, after an Afghan police unit moved to arrest an insurgent in the area, Jones said yesterday.
"They were ambushed by insurgents and had two killed and seven injured.
"They requested the help of our PRT to help stabilise the situation and help evacuate out the dead and wounded people," Jones said.
The PRT sent patrols into the region, who assisted in putting suppressive fire down on where the insurgents remained in buildings.
"Our patrols then moved to secure the area around it, and that's when we came under fire by a separate group of insurgents."
Durrer was shot in the light armoured vehicle he was commanding, and died during evacuation. Malone died instantly when he was shot trying to assist a company commander who had been injured.
Jones said the base in Do Abe was attacked by insurgents again last night, but there were no casualties.
Yesterday's announcement brings the total number of New Zealand soldier fatalities in Afghanistan to seven.
Three soldiers died last year, including Private Kirifi Mila of the PRT and SAS soldiers Corporal Doug Grant and Lance Corporal Leon Smith. PRT Corporal Doug Hughes died in an incident in April this year.