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NZ troops in Afghanistan need our support, says grandad

Published: 3:56PM Monday September 24, 2012

Arrests over Bamiyan province attacks that killed two New Zealand soldiers last month should bring "a boost" to the armed forces still serving in Afghanistan and their families.

Jack Durrer, whose grandson was one of the victims, insists it is important for those back home to continue to support troops leaving to join the operation this week.

Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, both aged 26, were killed by insurgents on August 4 after a fierce three-minute gunfight in a village near Do Abe. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Today, the International Security Assistance Force captured a prominent Taliban weapons dealer suspected of being behind the attack. Two others were arrested during the raid in Baghlan province, near Bamiyan, and another armed insurgent was shot dead when he threatened Afghan and coalition forces.

Prime Minister John Key said no New Zealand troops were involved in the raid.

"As long as they got the right person, it doesn't matter how they got that person," Jack Durrer told ONE News. "It was really good news for the families and also for the soldiers that are still there - I think it was quite a big boost to them.

"It's a pity for the New Zealand troops that they couldn't do it, but it's still a boost for the safety of the boys and girls down there. I think they're all looking for justice to build the country up again."

The past couple of months have obviously been hard for the Durrers and the families of three other Kiwis - Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, Private Richard Harris and Corporal Luke Tamatea - who were killed two weeks after Durrer and Malone when their Humvee was hit by a bomb, also in Bamiyan.

Their deaths brought the number of New Zealand soldiers who have died in Afghanistan to 10, with Baker becoming the first woman.

Jack Durrer, who raised his grandson, was adamant our troops needed the support of their families if they are to succeed in their mission.

"For the families, it's hard at the moment. It's very difficult [to say goodbye], but the main thing is to keep contact with them and encouragement for what they are doing there.

"The army is very supportive around giving the boys and girls a chance to talk to their family too - they are able to phone every so often.

"I don't think they've quite finished the job there that they're supposed to do."

Durrer says he still supports the continued deployment of New Zealand forces.

"But there's talk of them withdrawing already and I think the government will look into that."

Four members of the SAS were sent back to Kabul this month to help gather information on Taliban fighters involved in the attacks on New Zealand troops.

The man arrested today is described as the third-highest ranking Taliban leader in the district.

The final deployment of troops leave New Zealand tomorrow, but the Government confirmed this month that New Zealand troops would withdraw from the the war-torn nation by the end of next April.