Accident claims life of Albanian soldier in Latvia

An accident has claimed the life of an Albanian soldier stationed in Latvia as part of NATO's multinational battalion, LSM's Latvian service reported May 6.

Defense Minister Artis Pabriks offered his condolences and said a full investigation of the incident would take place.

Pabriks  contacted the Albanian Defense Minister Olta Xhaçka and  expressed his deepest sympathy and hopes for a rapid recovery for the injured.

"In my name and on behalf of the people of Latvia, I expressed my deepest sympathy to the Minister of Defense, the soldier's family, and the entire Albanian people in connection with today's accident that killed an Albanian soldier," Pabriks said in a statement.

Details of the incident, including naming the deceased as First Lieutenant Zarife Hasanaj, were given by the Albanian Daily News, which said the incident happened while World War II mines were being neutralized by the specialist Albanian team. Two other members of the bomb disposal team were reported as injured and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama also offered his condolences.

The Albanian Ministry of Defense website confirmed the tragedy, saying it took place at around 09:10 Monday morning and that the injured are being treated at Camp Ādaži, the main military base near Rīga at which the NATO battlegroup is based.

Albanian military commander Bardhyl Kollçaku gave a statement about the incident.

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Later in the day the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement, too:

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stands in sorrow with the family of the Albanian soldier who died at Camp Ādaži military base today and wishes a rapid recovery to both Albanian servicemen injured in the incident. As reported by the Ministry of Defense, a tragic incident occurred during a military training exercise at Camp Ādaži today, which claimed the life of one soldier and caused injuries to two others. The soldiers of the Albanian armed forces were serving in Latvia as part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence battle group.

"The presence of NATO allied troops is very important to Latvia, as it helps strengthen collective defense in the Baltic States and Poland. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses thanks to Albania for its contribution to the strengthening the security of the entire Alliance and offers condolences over today’s tragic incident."


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