Latvian soldier dies in Afghanistan explosion

A Latvian soldier serving in northern Afghanistan has died and three others were wounded when an improvised explosive device blew up Aug. 11, the Ministry of Defense has announced.

PFC Edgars Ozoliņš died from injuries suffered in the incident, the ministry said. No further details were announced, but Latvian media reported that the wounded are privates Ainārs Stepiņš and Juris Šķērškāns and PFC Andris Brencis. They were part of a patrol escorting members of the press.

Ozoliņš is the first Latvian soldier to die in Afghanistan.

The incident happened in the city of Maymaneh in Faryab Province. Thirteen civilians also were hurt, according to media reports.

Defense Minister Vinets Veldre expressed his condolences in a telephone call to Ozoliņš’ mother, said Airis Rikveilis, head of the ministry’s press office.

Members of the Latvian Armed Forces have served in Afghanistan since 2003 as part of the NATO defense alliance’s International Security Assistance Force. As of June 18, according to the defense ministry, the Latvian contingent included 117 soldiers, two representatives of the state police and one representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In December 2006, PFC Gints Bleija and PFC Vitālijs Vasiļevs were killed in Iraq when the vehicle in which they were riding was hit by an improvised explosive device. Also in Iraq, Lt. Olafs Baumanis was killed in a June 2004 explosion.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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