Officer killed in Afghanistan

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A 30-year-old officer from Steinkjer in northern Norway is the latest casualty among Norwegian military personnel in Afghanistan. The Taliban quickly took responsibility for his death.

Trond Petter Kolset was killed by a suicide bomber in a roadside attack on Friday morning April 17, local time. Kolset had only recently arrived on his latest tour of duty in Afghanistan, and was due to be in the country for just a month.

The attack took place on the main highway outside Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. Kolset was on his way to the Norwegian camp at Meymaneh when the suicide bomber driving a vehicle loaded with explosives crashed into the military convoy in which Kolset was riding.

There were two Norwegian soldiers riding in Kolset’s Toyota Land Cruiser, but only Kolset was fatally injured.

A Taliban spokesman told Norwegian TV2 that it was only a coincidence that the Norwegian officers were targeted. “We view all foreign forces as a target,” he said. “We ask that the Norwegian people stop sending their sons and daughters to Afghanistan. We will only keep killing them.”

Kolset is survived by his spouse, who also is serving in Afghanistan, along with his parents and other family members. He worked in military intelligence, had learned several local dialects spoken in Afghanistan and had claimed he looked forward to his tours of duty in the country.

Norway currently has about 650 soldiers in Afghanistan, part of the international force trying to stabilize the country after decades of war and terrorism. Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen took the news of the latest Norwegian casualty hard, and was preparing to join his family when his casket arrives at Norway’s main airport at Gardermoen.

Debate over Norway’s presence in Afghanistan has often split Norway’s left-center coalition government. A spokesman for the Socialist Left Party, which has opposed sending troops to Afghanistan, said this wasn’t the time for a new debate.