Attack on Finns in Afghanistan leads to rethink of safety precautions
Peacekeeper with leg injury to stay hospitalised for at least two weeks
Armoured vehicles probably prevented fatalities in a recent bombing the north of Afghanistan, in which four Finnish peacekeeping soldiers were injured.
The bombing was the most serious attack targeting Finnish peacekeepers so far this year.
After each serious attack, the safety needs of the Finnish forces are reassessed. For this reason, the number of heavy armoured vehicles with the forces is one of the serious topics of discussion for Lieutenant-Colonel Tommi Härkönen and Colonel Pekka Saariaho, Chief of Staff at the Pori Brigade.
The Pori Brigade is the command centre for Finnish crisis management forces in Afghanistan.
An explosive went off near the armoured vehicle in which the peacekeepers were travelling on Saturday.
The force of the blast caused the vehicle to fall over, injuring four Finnish peacekeepers inside.
“It was quite a blast: several kilos of explosives. If it had not been such a strong armoured vehicle, something much worse could have happened”, Saariaho said.
For instance, Colonel Saariaho noted that an ordinary SUV would have been completely destroyed.
The main responsibility for protecting the Finnish peacekeepers is with Härkönen, the local commander.
Saariaho promises full support from Finland for the forces in the situation in which roadside bombs appear to be increasingly common in the area where the Finns are deployed.
“When the rebels change their ways of operating, we have to think about ours. Such work is now underway”, Härkönen said on Monday evening in Afghanistan.
The security level has been raised already before Saturday’s attack, and better-armoured vehicles have been sent to the peacekeepers for use.
“The inquiry into the incident itself is still underway. We have no knowledge of the perpetrators”, Härkönen says.
The two most seriously injured peacekeepers were flown to Helsinki on Sunday afternoon for further treatment.
The two were taken to Töölö hospital. The most seriously injured of the two will have to spend up to about two weeks in hospital.
“Bone injuries are mainly involved, and surgery will be needed. there are no plans for the amputation of a leg”, says Jarkko Parjanen, the doctor at Töölö Hospital.
Full recovery for the soldier with the most serious injuries could take months.
The back injuries of the other peacekeeper were not very serious, and he was sent home already on Monday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Two Finnish soldiers injured in Afghanistan bomb attack flown home (5.10.2009)