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No change to Aus troops in Afghanistan

PM Kevin Rudd said he would not change the number of Australian troops deployed in Afghanistan following the country's seventh combat death in the central Asian country.

world Updated: Nov 28, 2008 09:02 IST

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Friday he would not change the number of Australian troops deployed in Afghanistan following the country's seventh combat death in the central Asian country.

An Australian special operations soldier was killed on Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded while his unit patrolled on foot in southern Uruzgan province, army Lt Gen David Hurley said. Two other soldiers were slightly wounded.

The soldier's family has been notified but the military is not yet releasing his name.

The soldier is the seventh Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan since troops joined the US-led invasion to oust the hardline Islamic Taliban regime in 2001.

Australia is the largest contributor to Afghanistan outside NATO, and has 1,000 troops there.

"This is a great tragedy for the nation, this brave young man died wearing the uniform of Australia," Rudd told the Fairfax Radio Network.

The government had no plans to change the number of Australian troops in Afghanistan, though this was reviewed annually. "We believe we've got our numbers about right, we have no plans to increase them," Rudd said.

Australia has been critical of NATO and other European countries for not sending more troops to Afghanistan to prevent a resurgent Taliban from extending its operations.

"The worst thing we can do is simply to allow Afghanistan to be reconsolidated again as a base for global terrorist operations," Rudd said.