Jason Marks has become the fifth Australian casuality in Afghanistan, having been killed in a grenade attack between Australian and Taliban forces in Oruzgan province.
He joins the rising death toll of 730 coalition forces and thousands of Afghani civilians in a protacted war which is now in its sixth year. The war began in October 2001 after US President George W. Bush refused Taliban offers to try al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in an Islamic court, and has led to a booming illicit opium trade in Afghanistan.
Marks was born in Broken Hill, NSW and raised near Rockhampton, in Queensland. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.
Four other Australians were wounded in the attack.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told journalists that Australia would remain in Afghanistan "for the long haul" and that 2008 would be a "difficult, bloody and dangerous" year.
Six people, including a 10-year-old child, a parliamentarian and three Taliban insurgents were killed yesterday after a failed assassination attempt on Afghani president Hamid Karzai.