Soldiers wounded in Afghan battle

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Eight Norwegian soldiers were wounded, two of them critically, in a six-hour battle with insurgents in Afghanistan on Sunday. The Norwegians came under fire while on their way to talk with local leaders and security forces in the northwestern part of the war-torn country.

Two Norwegian soldiers underwent surgery at a German military hospital. PHOTO: Forsvaret/Lars Kroken

A military spokesman said one of the soldiers was still in surgery Monday morning at a German military hospital at Camp Marmal in Mazar-e Sharif. His condition was unclear, while the other seriously wounded soldier was said to be stable after also undergoing surgery.

The Norwegian soldiers are part of the stabilization force PRT Meymaneh and were attacked by insurgents firing handguns and grenades in the Ghowmach area of the Faryab province. The Norwegians fired back and the battle, which began around 2pm local time, continued until about 8pm Sunday night.

Helicopters were called to evacuate those most seriously wounded. Norwegian military officials were unsure who was behind the attack, whether it was Taliban forces or “people with commercial interests” such as local drug dealers or illegal tax collectors “who don’t benefit from having military in the area.”

Norway has around 500 soldiers on duty in Afghanistan, assigned to the NATO-led security and stabilization force ISAF (International Security Assistance Force).

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