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Australia cannot be a country that "cuts and runs" out of Afghanistan, the opposition leader says.
Five Australian soldiers died in the worst 24-hour period of Australia's decade-long involvement in Afghanistan, hurting defence force morale and raising comparisons to the Vietnam war.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott paid tribute to the fallen diggers, but warned Australia could not shirk its responsibilities.
"I don't think Australians want us to be a country ... that cuts and runs," he told the Nine Network.
In the first incident, a man in Afghan National Army uniform shot dead three soldiers and wounded another two from the Australian Mentoring Task Force Five at a patrol base in the Baluchi Valley, north of the main base at Tarin Kowt.
In the second, two special forces soldiers died when a US helicopter rolled over as it landed during an operation in Helmand Province.
The mission in Afghanistan had 18 months to go.
"We are on track," Mr Abbott said.
"Having spoken to lots of soldiers, they think they are making a difference."
Australian soldiers and the public had a right to be anxious about the "green on blue incident".
He hopes the Afghan authorities will be absolutely relentless in tracking down the rogue soldier who opened fire at the Australian soldier.
Mr Abbott admitted there was no "absolute certainty" Afghanistan would be a safe place once international forces withdraw in 18 months.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce has also expressed her condolences.
"We're thinking of their families ... our love shines from our hearts for them," she told reporters in London overnight.
Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam said the attacks were targeted at morale.
"I have no doubt it will strengthen the resolve (of Australian soldiers)," he told ABC radio.
Senator Ludlam said it was important to critique the political decision that sent Australian soldiers to Afghanistan in the first place.
"The government and coalition are in agreement with each other and strong disagreement with the vast majority of the Australian population," he said.
He found it "baffling" that people were blaming the attacks on "cultural differences".
"It's much more tactical," he said.
"This is a decision the Taliban and their supporters are taking, advising these young men to join the (army and police), where they are trained and looked after and then at a certain point turn their weapons on their trainers ... this is a strategy."
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said an Australian presence in Afghanistan was in the national interest.
"We do need to remember why we are there in the first place," he told the Seven Network on Friday.
"The Taliban had become a hotbed and a home for terrorism networks around the world, including networks that were killing Australians.
"We do need to stay the course here to make sure we can leave an Afghanistan capable of defending itself.
"The transition out... we are already in the phase now."
Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey said the killer needed to face justice for his actions.
"This is evil, what they did was commit murder. This guy committed murder against three Australians. He needs to be hunted down and brought to justice," he said.
But it was important to deal with the facts, he added.
"The Afghan army are copping most of the casualties... not us," he said.
"That's the way it should be. We're training them."
Tags: Afghanistan, US, NATO, Occupation, Taliban, Australia, ANA, Pakistan, terrorist, Punjabi, ISI, Al, Qaeda
Location: Afghanistan (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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