Two Latvian soldiers have been killed and two others have been wounded—one seriously—during a firefight with insurgents in Afghanistan.
Details are scant, but the dead have been identified as Sgt. Voldemārs Anševics and PFC Andrejs Merkuševs, Latvian President Valdis Zatlers’ press office announced May 1.
Zatlers expressed his condolences to the soldiers’ families, friends and colleagues.
“Both of the National Armed Forces soldiers have given their lives, responsibly and courageously fulfilling their duties to provide security for many people,” the president said in a statement released by his press office.
Three U.S. soldiers and three Afghan soldiers also were killed in the incident, while three Afghan soldiers were wounded, the Latvian Ministry of Defense announced. The incident occurred in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar Province, which borders Pakistan, when insurgents attacked a observation post. Artillery and air support were called in to halt the insurgents’ attack.
The deaths of the eight soldiers also were acknowledged by the U.S. Department of State.
“The United States, Latvia and Afghanistan are working together to bring stability to Afghanistan,” spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement released May 1. “Today’s tragic loss of life demonstrates the challenges of our common mission and highlights the sacrifice of the brave individuals carrying it out. It also reaffirms our commitment to the Afghan people and the importance of working together to achieve peace and stability in the region.”
A total of 164 Latvian soldiers have been serving in Afghanistan as part of the multinational force led by the NATO defense alliance.
Anševics and Merkuševs are the second and third Latvian soldiers to die in Afghanistan since the National Armed Forces began serving there in 2003. In August, PFC Edgars Ozoliņš was killed and three other Latvian soldiers were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated as they were escorting members of the press.
Three Latvian soldiers have died in explosions while serving in Iraq. PFC Gints Bleija and PFC Vitālijs Vasiļevs were killed in December 2006, while Lt. Olafs Baumanis died in June 2004.
(Updated with information from the Latvian Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of State.)
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