rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Aus defence minister comes under Taliban rocket fire

Aus defence minister comes under Taliban rocket fire

April 12, 2012 12:39 IST
Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith had a close shave when Taliban insurgents fired rockets at his military plane at the tarmac at Kandahar Airport.

Smith and senior officers of the Australian defence forces were preparing to leave the Kandahar Airport after an unannounced trip to visit troops in Afghanistan on Wednesday when the airfield's radar defence system detected incoming rockets, Australian news agency AAP reported.

Australian officials said the rockets reportedly fell elsewhere on the base. "The C-130 Hercules was immediately placed in full lockdown with all the VVIP occupants ordered to don helmets and assume crouching positions on the floor of the plane," the agency said.

Confirming the dramatic scare, Smith told Sky News "I wouldn't describe as a close call." The minister said the incident had occurred as his plane waited on the airport in the Southern Afghan city that is plagued by violent attacks by Taliban.

This is a second major attempt by Taliban to target top Western alliance leaders whose forces are deployed in Afghanistan.

Nearly two years ago British Prime Minister David Cameron had come close to being assassinated in Southern Afghanistan when authorities intercepted communications of plans by Taliban to shoot down his Chinook helicopter by firing shoulder launched missiles.

Smith said that the rockets did not appear to be "aimed at us". "It did not come near us. It's a known risk..... we were briefed in advance of such threats in Kandahar," he said.

The Australian defence minister said his aircraft and a number of others on the tarmac took "standard precautions" and the takeoff was delayed for half-an-hour, until they got the all clear.

Smith was in Afghanistan to address and meet Australian troops based in Tarin Kot near Kandahar and to hold talks with Afghan leaders and International Security Assistance Force commanders about Australia's plans to withdraw combat troops from the war-torn country by next year.

 

© Copyright 2014 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.