Finnish soldier in Afghanistan hit by grenade launcher projectile
Shell did not explode
A Finnish member of the crisis management forces in Afghanistan was injured on Tuesday by the accidental firing of an automatic grenade launcher.
The soldier was treated at a German field hospital in Mazar-i-Sharif. He is to be evacuated to Finland today, Wednesday.
The Pori Brigade, which is responsible for press relations for the peacekeepers, gave out few details of the incident.
The misfire took place early in the morning at the Camp Northern Lights base when a Finnish unit was leaving for shooting practice.
For an unknown reason, the automatic grenade launcher went off and a projectile hit a peacekeeper in the back.
fortunately a safety mechanism prevented the grenade, which hit a protective vest worn by the soldier, from exploding.
The mechanism primes the grenades to detonate only when the projectile has flown a distance of 18 to 40 metres.
“All I know is that the weapon was loaded and that it went off at some stage, hitting the Finnish soldier in the back. The matter is being investigated, and then we will know more”, says Colonel Eero Pyötsiä, commander of the Pori Brigade.
Loading the automatic grenade launcher is normal practice in the camp.
“When we leave the camp, weapons are loaded. It is regular practice regardless of whether or not we are going to an operation or to shooting practice.”
Pyötsiä said that the soldier was not seriously injured.
“The grenade did not explode. Instead, he received its kinetic energy. He was wearing full protective clothing, which is proof that the protective clothing works.”
The Finnish forces in Afghanistan have German-built Heckler & Koch automatic grenade launchers. The weapons are intended specifically for urban warfare.
The 40-mm. weapon can fire single shots or a series of bursts. Each grenade weighs 250 grams, and it has a speed of 250 metres a second when fired.
It is a very destructive weapon, with a fragmentation effect equivalent to that of a hand grenade, spreading shrapnel over a radius of about ten metres. It can penetrate steel up to five centimetres thick.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Grief becomes real for Finns in Afghanistan (17.2.2011)
Finnish base in Afghanistan in mourning over roadside bomb death (16.2.2011)