Armenian Soldier Wounded in Iraq

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–An soldier, part of Armenia’s armed forces serving in Iraq was wounded Friday, Armenia’s Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian announced Saturday. The minister said Lt. Gevorg Nalbandian was wounded while on a mission to defuse mines. As a result, his foot was amputated. The minister said the Armenian servicemen will be transported to an American military hospital in Germany for further treatment. Armenian troops have been deployed to Iraq since January 2004, and early this year Armenia rotated its troops in Iraq for the fourth time, sending 46 servicemen, who are truck drivers, medics and armored vehicle drivers. The Polish PAP news agency said one Polish and one Slovak soldier were killed by a roadside bomb in south-central Iraq late on Friday. The bomb exploded near the town of Al Kut in Wasit province as a multinational convoy was returning to base, PAP news agency quoted a military spokesman as saying. Polish troops are leading a stabilization mission in that part of Iraq. "A Polish soldier, Sergeant Tomasz Murkowski, and a Slovak Sergeant Rastislav Neplech, were killed when the vehicle in which they were traveling was blown up by a roadside bomb," Lt-Col Dariusz Kacperczyk said. Another Polish soldier and Gevork Nalbandian were wounded in the attack and rushed to the hospital by helicopter. In a press release issued to Armenian media the US Embassy in Yerevan expressed its deepest concern for the Armenian soldier who was seriously injured in Iraq, and offered condolences for the Polish and Salvadorian soldiers who were killed during the incident. "Armenia’s contingent in Iraq is carrying out the extremely important but dangerous work of bringing peace and democracy to the country. The injured Armenian solider is receiving the best medical care available, and we would like to thank him and his Armenian colleagues for their vital role in the international coalition fighting the global war on terror," the press release emphasized. Meanwhile on Monday, Defense Minister Sarkisian left for Iraq where he is expected to meet with Iraqi defense minister, top military officers from the US-led international anti-terrorist coalition and also with Armenian servicemen who are in Iraq as part of the multi-coalition force. "Armenia cannot be only a security consumer, it should make its modest, but definite contribution to the process of building world security… Time has shown that Armenian drivers and military medics in Iraq have been carrying out a very dangerous, but very important mission," the minister said before going aboard the plane. The minister said he had asked parliament to extend the presence of the 46-member Armenian platoon in Iraq. The minister also expressed hope that Lt. Nalbandian, who was wounded while on a mission to defuse mines in Iraq on Friday, would recover soon.

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