IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

First Australian soldier dies serving in Iraq

An Australian soldier was shot and killed in a "tragic accident" inside Baghdad's Green Zone, the army chief said Saturday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An Australian soldier was shot and killed in a "tragic accident" inside Baghdad's Green Zone, the army chief said Saturday.

He was the second soldier with Australian citizenship to die in Iraq since the U.S.-led war began in 2003 but was the Australian military's first casualty.

The soldier, whose identity was not immediately released, was killed Friday afternoon in a shooting accident, Australian army chief Lt. Gen. Peter Leahy told reporters in Canberra.

"An investigation into the accident has commenced, and until more information is available I am not prepared to speculate about the cause," Leahy said.

Leahy said the soldier was struck by a single gunshot while serving with the Operation Catalyst Security Detachment in Baghdad. He was taken to a U.S. military hospital, where he died.

The soldier had been in Iraq since March and was attached to the Sydney-based 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.

Leahy said the soldier, who was married with two small children, was inside army barracks in Baghdad's secure Green Zone when the accident occurred.

"He was given immediate first aid by his mates who were with him," Leahy said. "He was receiving the best support available in the world almost immediately. Tragically, he died shortly thereafter."

Name, details withheld pending investigation
The soldier's name, along with further details of the incident, will not be released until a full investigation has been completed, the Australian Defense Force said in a statement.

Last year, Flight Lt. Paul Pardoel, a dual Australian-British citizen who was serving in Britain's Royal Air Force, was killed when the transport aircraft he was traveling in crashed under mysterious circumstances in Baghdad.

However, Friday's casualty was the first Australian soldier to be killed in Iraq.

Australia, a close ally of the United States and Britain, sent 2,000 troops to take part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It currently maintains around 1,300 troops in and around Iraq, including a task force of 450 soldiers who are protecting Japanese military engineers engaged in humanitarian work in southern Iraq.

Two other Australians, both journalists, have also died in the conflict.