THE FALLEN: Two Latvian soldiers, Sergeant Voldemars Ansevics (bottom) and Private First Class Andrejs Merkusevs (top), were killed in May 1 Taliban attacks that also claimed the lives of three US soldiers. Two other Latvian soldiers were wounded, one seriously (see story Page 3).
RIGA - Two Latvian soldiers have been killed and two wounded in separate insurgent attacks on a military outpost in the Kunar province of Afghanistan. Three U.S. soldiers were also killed in the attacks.
Sergeant Voldemars Ansevics and Private First Class Andrejs Merkusevs were killed in separate May 1 attacks near the border with Pakistan.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were carried out with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
Though the names of the wounded soldiers have not been released, the Latvian Defense Ministry said one of the soldiers had been seriously wounded.
"The work of a soldier is enormously risky 's he or she may be asked to sacrifice life itself in the name of security. Both members of the Latvian National Armed Forces gave up their lives. They were courageous in fulfilling their duties with a great sense of responsibility," Latvian President Valdis Zatlers said in a statement following the deaths.
"They helped to ensure the security of many, many people. We shall always be proud of their professional activities as soldiers, their love for Latvia, and their self-[sacrifice]," he said.
The president also expressed his hope that the wounded soldiers would soon recover.
National Armed Forces have informed relatives of killed and wounded soldiers
On Aug. 11, 2008, Private First Class Edgars Ozolins, 23, was killed in Meymaneh, Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device attack. Three other Latvian soldiers were wounded in that attack.
A total of 164 Latvian National Armed Forces soldiers serve in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, and 30 of them perform their duties in the joint Latvia-U.S. Operational Cooperation advisors' group.
The Latvian soldiers serving in Kunar are involved in mentoring the growing Afghan forces.