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Soldier killed by man in Afghan uniform

Second victim 'more serious than first thought'

18 January, 18:18
Soldier killed by man in Afghan uniform (ANSA) - Rome, January 18 - An Italian soldier was killed Tuesday by a "terrorist" wearing an Afghan army uniform, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said, clarifying earlier reports that the incident might have been friendly fire.

The victim, Corporal Luca Sanna from the Alpine regiment, was shot in the head in an outpost in western Afghanistan and another soldier was seriously wounded in the shoulder.

The murderer "got close to them with a ruse, perhaps by claiming he had problems with his weapon".

La Russa said there was also a possibility, "less likely", that the insurgent had infiltrated the Afghan army in order to carry out such attacks.

Since the assailant had managed to get away "there was no way" to say for certain which case it had been.

"But in either case, you can't talk about friendly fire. It was enemy fire," the minister told a press conference, adding that security would be heightened in Italian bases.

Sanna's murder took Italy's death toll in Afghanistan to 36 since its mission began in 2004.

The second soldier was initially thought to have sustained a non-serious wound but it was later learned his condition was "much more serious than first thought," sources said in Rome.

He is in a military hospital in western Afghanistan.

"The initial assessment of his condition was too optimistic," the sources said.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reacted to the death by reiterating that staying the course in Afghanistan was the best way to honour Italian casualties. "Today's tragic episode gives another reason to continue in the effort to bring as soon as possible the transition and 'Afghanisation' which will enable us to hand over to the Afghan police and army the control of their country," Frattini said.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano noted that the soldier "fell in a peace mission".