Three New Zealand soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.
They were in the last vehicle of a convoy that was hit by an improvised explosive device in Bamyan Province, northwest of Do Abe, on the road to Romero.
The soldiers were serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Defence Force says it happened at 9.20am local time yesterday (4.50pm NZT).
It says the remaining personnel in the patrol secured the location and awaited additional support, and next of kin have been told.
The Defence Force will not confirm reports a woman is among the New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
It says it will release more details about the three deaths during the news conference at 11.30am.
If confirmed it will be the first time a woman has been killed while on service with the New Zealand Defence Force.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones says they're deeply saddened by this loss, especially given the recent incident on August 4.
Prime Minister John Key is expressing sorrow at the deaths and he's revealed the three soldiers killed in Bamyan today are part of the same Burnham-based group that lost two men two weeks ago.
"It was a very, very large explosive device that they hit, caused huge and tremendous damage immediately when they hit the bomb."
He says he extends his deepest sympathies to the families of the three soldiers.
Mr Key says it highlights the gravity of what New Zealand troops face in Afghanistan.
He says his condolences go to their families.
"It's a time of great grief for them, but also for New Zealand. I mean, five people now in the course of about two weeks is a massive blow."
The Burnham community is mourning the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Selwyn District's Mayor Kelvin Coe says the community will be hit hard once again.
"It's a military community there and I'm sure they will miss these soldiers who've been trained there and they'll be known to many of the people there."
Mr Coe says his sympathies go out to the friends and families of those killed.
The Defence Force is trying to speak to all the families of soldiers in Afghanistan.
Mr Key says the killed soldiers have paid the ultimate price for their selfless work.
"The next of kins have obviously been spoken to as we try and also speak to all of the other families of serving members up there to try and put their minds at rest, but obviously our huge sympathy goes to the families that have lost their loved ones."
He says our troops are operating in a highly volatile war zone, and the Defence Force is making changes to improve their level of security.
And former army chief Lou Gardiner agrees.
"If we picked up and left now, another nation would have to go in there and their sons and daughters (would be) at risk to carry on the work that we're doing and it's not a national characteristic - we've never just picked ourselves up and left."
Mr Gardiner says our coalition partners have paid an even higher price than us, but have kept their forces there.
"Our major allies are there and they've suffered tremendous casualties as well, but they're sticking to their withdrawal plans."
He says we've made a huge commitment in Bamyan, and the lives of many Afghanis whose lives we've changed for the better, would go downhill rapidly.
The Defence Minister says the deaths of three more soldiers in Afghanistan will come as a deep shock to the nation.
The incident comes just two weeks after the deaths of Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone.
It takes the total number of New Zealand personnel who have died in Afghanistan to 10.
Foreign Correspondent in Kabul Jon Stephenson says there's no question the area is facing rising instability.
He says a second bomb was discovered shortly after the initial attack.
"Soldiers reportedly dismounted after the initial blast and did a search of the area and they found and defused a second IED."
Jon Stephenson says it's likely there were at least a dozen New Zealand soldiers on that specific patrol.
He says flags have already been raised over the rising danger in this area.
"We've had warnings from the chief of police of the Bamyan Province amongst other people, that there have been insurgents infiltrating into the northeast of Bamyan from neighbouring provinces, particularly Baghlan Province."
Jon Stephenson says this latest attack shows momentum gained by the Taliban in recent months.
Jonathon Coleman says his immediate thoughts are with the families of the soldiers who have lost their lives.
He says it's a significant blow after the other casualties our Defence Force suffered on August 4.
The Governor-General says he's greatly distressed to learn of the latest deaths in Afghanistan.
Sir Jerry Mateparae, who's also a former head of the Defence Force, says the loss of three more soldiers is a great tragedy.
He says the soldiers were part of New Zealand’s Provincial Reconstruction Team, which for many years has worked tirelessly to bring peace and security to the lives of the people of Bamyan province.
Their service has brought great credit to New Zealand and the New Zealand Defence Force.
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff says his heart goes out to the relatives of the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and all of New Zealand will be feeling the loss.
He says we send our family to war thinking it won't happen to them, but of course, it does.
"You understand the need for sacrifice, but for that sacrifice to be worthwhile, then you need to know that there is a goal that is achievable and that that sacrifice was not in vain."
But Mr Goff says it's difficult to see at the moment how much difference any further sacrifice of New Zealand lives in Afghanistan will make.
He says our troops have done a fantastic job in Bamyan and went there for the right purpose - but it's time to come home.
"We've now been there nine years - about as long as we had in both world wars combined and there is nothing further that New Zealand troops can achieve in that country."
The Prime Minister says we'll still be pulling our troops out next year, but that date may be earlier in 2013 rather than later.
Mr Key says it's not practical to just up-sticks and leave - there has to be as smooth a transition as possible.
He'll front at a news conference at 11.30am this morning to give more information.