Bodies of Spaniards killed by Taliban return home

26th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The bodies of two Spanish policemen and an interpreter killed in Afghanistan arrived in Spain Thursday where they were honoured in a ceremony attended by government officials.

The coffins arrived in a Spanish air force plane at the military base of Torrejon outside Madrid.

An Afghan employed as the driver of one of the two Civil Guard officers killed them and their Iranian-born Spanish interpreter during a training session in the northwestern province of Badghis on Tuesday before security forces shot him dead, Afghan and Spanish authorities said.

Hundreds of Afghan men then tried to overrun the Spanish-administered base to protest the killing of the local man, in an incident that left more than two dozen people injured, police and doctors said.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, government ministers, members of the Civil Guard paramilitary police force and the families of the victims were at the airport Wednesday for a brief ceremony.

A funeral for the two officers -- Captain Jose Maria Galera and Second Lieutenant Abraham Leoncio Bravo -- is scheduled for later Thursday in their home barracks in northern town of Logrono, attended by Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia.

Spain has 1,555 troops serving in the International Security Assistance Force, according to ISAF's website.

They are part of a 141,000-strong US-led NATO force deployed in Afghanistan to battle a Taliban-led insurgency nearing the end of its ninth year.

With the latest deaths, the number of NATO-led and US soldiers killed in Afghan violence this year reached 462, excluding the Spanish civilian interpreter.

The Spanish contingent runs a US-led civil-military operation known as a Provincial Reconstruction Team in poverty stricken Badghis province.

The Taliban posted an Internet message claiming the Afghan assailant had a "special connection" to their group, the SITE monitoring service said.

SITE quoted a statement posted on the Taliban website, from spokesman Zabihullah, saying the man "always said that he will take revenge against the occupying soldiers after he had seen with his own eyes the injustices and the conduct of the occupiers towards the innocent residents."

© 2010 AFP

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