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Afghan Mine Kills German Peacekeeper; Another Hurt

May 30, 2003|From Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — A land mine exploded Thursday underneath a vehicle carrying two German peacekeepers, killing one and wounding the other.

The explosion was a "tragic accident" and there is no evidence that it was a deliberate attack on the soldiers, German Defense Minister Peter Struck said in Berlin.

They were on patrol in a two-vehicle convoy about 10 miles south of Kabul, the capital, when the mine exploded, said Lt. Col. Paul Kolken, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force.

Authorities were attempting to determine when the mine was placed. After 25 years of war, Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries and its countryside is littered with unexploded munitions.

The wounded soldier, who suffered face injuries, received treatment in hospital, where he was in stable condition, officials said. His wounds were not life-threatening, Struck said.

The incident followed a plane crash Monday in Turkey in which 62 peacekeepers from Spain died as they returned home after a four-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

About 5,000 peacekeepers are in Afghanistan's capital to help maintain order. Germany and the Netherlands are in joint command of the force, but the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is scheduled to take control in August. German and Dutch forces will be replaced with 1,800 Canadian soldiers, Kolken said.

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