Italian PM mourns death of two soldiers but says Afghan mission must go on

10:34, May 18, 2010      

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Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday mourned the death of two Italian soldiers killed in Afghanistan but stressed the importance of pursuing the peace-keeping mission there.

The two victims, sergeant Massimiliano Ramadu and corporal Luigi Pascazio, blew-up in a roadside bomb near Heart while other two were severely injured in the blast including a woman soldier, 26-year-old Cristina Buonacucina.

Both Berlusconi and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini praised their courage and sacrifice by highlighting at the same time the "fundamental role of the Afghan mission in maintaining peace and stability in the region."

Berlusconi expressed his condolences to the victims' families and sent a get-well message to the wounded soldiers, according to a statement issued by his office.

His government ally Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League Party, said "we cannot escape from Afghanistan, our duty is to stay there."

Senate speaker Renato Schifani grieved the soldiers'death: " Italy is deeply afflicted by these victims, who were killed by terrorism while promoting peace and freedom."

The four soldiers, members of the Italian Alpine regiment, were part of an engineering unit responsible for detonating explosives and bombs on Afghan roads.

With Monday's tragic accident Italy's troops death toll in Afghanistan rose to 22 victims since the launch of the U.N.-led mission. Rome's judiciary authorities have opened an investigation envisaging the hypothesis of a terrorist attack.

The Italian government's resilience in front of this last misfortune is in line with the surge plan of sending an additional 1,000 troops to Afghanistan by the end of this year. The decision was taken in December after adhering to the new Afghan strategy launched by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Source: Xinhua
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