New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has expressed his sorrow at the deaths of five Australian soldiers in two incidents in Afghanistan. The soldiers died in separate incidents in the southern Uruzgan and Helmand provinces in the past 24 hours, Australian Defence Force acting chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin said. Mr Key, who is in the Cook Islands for the Pacific Islands Forum, said the losses were particularly painful given that five New Zealanders had died in Afghanistan in recent weeks. “The thoughts of New Zealanders are today with Australians, and in particular with the families who have lost loved ones and with the soldiers who have lost friends and colleagues,” Mr Key said in a statement. “I have sent a message to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to extend our condolences following these tragic events.” Ms Gillard has left the forum early to return to Australia following news of the deaths. She says she still has faith in the progress Australian troops are making in Afghanistan.