Slovenian Soldier Injured in Afghanistan

"Slovenian troops were on duty mentoring Afghan forces, when there was a contact with the enemy and one Slovenian soldier was wounded," Chief of the General Staff, Maj-Gen Dobran Božič, told reporters at Ljubljana airport.

Speaking upon the government delegation's return form a visit to Slovenian troops serving in the Mare nostrum mission in Sicily, Božič could not give further details about the incident or the attackers.

Since a detailed report on the incident was not yet available, he could also not give any details about the injured soldier. But public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported that he was a member of special forces.

Defence Minister Roman Jakič could only confirm that the soldier was not in a critical condition and that he was feeling fine and was expected to recover quickly.

When wounds are small injured soldiers as a rule remain in the deployment area for convalescence, while in more serious cases they are transported to the US air base in Germany, from where he could be brought to Slovenia, Jakič said.

Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek expressed relief that the the Slovenian soldier's life was not in danger and that he was lightly injured.

"The equipment and training are such that Slovenian troops can be safe as much as they can be safe in a war zone", she said.

Bratušek noted that the withdrawal of Slovenian troops was planned soon, with the minister adding that the Slovenian contingent there would be reduced from 39 troops currently in April and that the rest would return home in late June.

Today's incident would not affect the troops' work in Afghanistan. "They will continue to perform tasks as expected," said Božič, who like Bratušek highlighted that the troops were well equipped and especially well trained.

Slovenia has been cooperating in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan since 2003. The 20th rotation took over in September. Most Slovenian soldiers are stationed at the Arena base in Herat.

Six Slovenian soldiers were involved in an exchange of fire with the Taliban insurgents in November while accompanying an Afghan unit on a patrol. No Slovenian soldier was injured in the incident.

A civilian expert was lightly wounded in an attack on the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Herat in late May 2011, and one soldier suffered from minor hearing problems after a Slovenian hummer hit a mine in July 2005.

The only casualty among Slovenian soldiers in international missions so far was a servicewoman who committed suicide in Kosovo in 2009.

Slovenia has almost 450 soldiers, police officers and civil experts deployed in international missions and operations, most of them in Kosovo.