Canberra (Agencies): An Australian soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device during a patrol in southern Afghanistan, bringing the Australian death toll to 22.

The acting chief of the defence force, Lt Gen David Hurley, said 22-year-old Corp Richard Edward Atkinson was on his first deployment to Afghanistan and engaged to be married. Another soldier was seriously injured in the explosion in Uruzgan province, and is now in satisfactory condition at a military hospital in Tarin Kowt.

Australia has the largest military obligation in Afghanistan of any country outside NATO, with 1,550 Australian troops there.