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Sixteenth Georgian Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Apr.'12 / 11:35

Sergeant Valerian Khujadze from the 31st infantry battalion died following an improvised explosive device attack in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand, the Georgian Ministry of Defense said on April 25.

The recent incident puts total death toll of Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan to sixteen – all of them were serving in the Helmand province; this is the fifth fatality among the Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan this year.

The Georgian MoD said that 35-year-old Sergeant Khujadze died of injuries sustained from IED attack during patrolling.

“He had been serving in the Georgian Armed Forces since 2004. Sergeant Khujadze also participated in a peacekeeping mission in Iraq. In 2011 he was awarded with the "Medal for Participation in Peacekeeping Operations,” MoD said.

This is the second tour of duty in Afghanistan for the 31st battalion of the 3rd infantry brigade.

The battalion was the first Georgian military unit, which was deployed in Helmand to serve alongside with the U.S. marines, in April, 2010; during its first six-month deployment, the battalion lost five of its soldiers.

Georgia plans to send one additional infantry battalion to Afghanistan on top of 936 Georgian soldiers who already serve there. After the deployment of additional battalion Georgia will become the largest non-NATO contributor to the ISAF.

Georgia’s first contribution to the Afghan operation came in 2004 when 50 soldiers were briefly deployed in the country under the German command as part of ensuring security during the presidential elections.

In November, 2009 Georgia deployed 173 soldiers in Kabul under the French command and in following year Georgia increased presence in Afghanistan by sending an infantry battalion in the Helmand province serving along with the U.S. marines.

Last year Georgia also sent 11 military instructors to Kandahar to train Afghan forces in artillery, according to the Georgian MoD.

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