Two Spanish soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Spain has 1,500 troops serving in NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Madrid: Two Spanish soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, and another three were injured, when their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The soldiers were on a reconnaissance patrol when the blast occurred some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Qala i Naw city in the northwestern province of Badghi, it said in a statement.

The injured were evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in the village of Bala Murghab. They suffered broken bones and bruises in the explosion.

Earlier this month, four Spanish soldiers and their civilian interpreter were injured when their armoured vehicle hit an explosive device while on a reconnaissance patrol in Badghi province.

Three of the victims suffered serious injuries. Two of them -- a lieutenant and a female soldier -- each had to have a leg amputated.

Spain has about 1,500 troops serving in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

There are around 130,000 NATO-led international troops fighting the near decade-long Taliban insurgency.

A limited withdrawal of foreign troops is expected to begin in July, ahead of a planned transition of responsibility to Afghan security forces due to be completed by end of 2014.

Spain will pull out 10 percent of its forces by the end of the first quarter of next year, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Friday at a European Union summit in Brussels.

By the end of the first quarter of 2013 another 40 percent will be withdrawn and a full pull out will take place in 2014, he added.

The Spanish troops are training Afghan Army personnel to maintain peace, security and stability.

Bureau Report

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