NATO base in Kandahar under missile attack, Romanian high officials safely evacuated

PM Ponta, defence and interior ministers went to Kandahar yesterday to attend the ceremony marking the start of the
withdrawal of Romanian troops from Afghanistan.

The NATO military base in Kandahar – Afghanistan came on Sunday under a missile attack, with the Romanian high officials who were at the site, attending the ceremony marking the start of the withdrawal of Romanian troops from Afghanistan, being evacuated and sheltered in bunkers.  Prime Minister Victor Ponta was in Kandahar, accompanied by Defence Minister Mircea Dusa and Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea.
The Romanian officials were whisked to bunkers in armored vehicles and the civilian members of the Romanian delegation were also taken to the shelters. The incident occurred while the Premier and the two Ministers were dining with the Romanian soldiers. When alarm sounded, everybody, PM Ponta included, were instructed to lie down as per the regular procedure, and were next evacuated.
No one was injured and after some tens of minutes, the Premier and the two Ministers resumed their visit schedule. The Prime Minister laid a wreath of flowers at the monument inside the military base devoted to the 23 Romanian soldiers who died in Afghanistan in the past 12 years, and then delivered a press conference.
‘There was nothing special. I am sorry we didn’t get to sit down longer with our troops. It was a minor incident which gave some color to the event. (…) We here have never been in danger,’ Premier Ponta told the press conference. He stressed that the Romanian troops in Afghanistan risk their lives several times a day, each time they go out on patrol missions.
For security reasons, the Romanian officials have preferred so far, most of the times, to announce their visits to the Afghanistan military camps after leaving the area. This media, there was live media coverage on the presence of the Romanian prime minister and the two ministers, as well as their speeches at the ceremony.
Romania is a partner well-respected by NATO allies, ponta says
In the speech delivered at the ceremony in Kandahar, Prime Minister Victor Ponta made reference to the Romanian soldiers who died or sustained injuries and he mentioned the important contribution of the Romanian troops to these missions. Ponta said that Romania is now a safer country and a partner well-respected by NATO allies thanks to the sacrifice and bravery of the Romanian troops who went on missions in this theater of operations.
“Thanks to your mission, sacrifice and courage, Romania is today a safer country and a partner well-respected by NATO countries and our allies. The 23 comrades of yours who gave their lives will remain Romania’s heroes; I am also thinking of the wounded who will need our support and solidarity. The Government’s duty is to make sure that you have better living conditions than you’ve had lately here. We are all waiting for you to make a safe homecoming. We are proud of you! I further wish you much success,” Prime Minister Ponta said in his address.
Minister Dusa stressed that the Romanian soldiers report “Mission accomplished”, reminding also that the Romanian troops have been present in Afghanistan since Feb. 2002. “Romania was among the first countries to participate in the ISAF missions, as early as in February 2002. You were the ones to open the way for the battalions’ mission in Afghanistan, and you are again to close this mission. Since 2006, the Romanian soldiers have been assigned the most dangerous area in Afghanistan – Zabul. The Romanian soldiers report today ‘Mission accomplished!’,” said the Romanian Defence Minister.
Deputy PM Gabriel Oprea said that the Romanian troops are loved by the fellow nationals and respected by international partners.
The Romanian contingent in Afghanistan currently consists of about 2,000 troops, who will progressively pull out in the coming months. According to the timetable announced by Minister Dusa early this year, some 200 Romanian troops will remain in Afghanistan after the end of 2024, tasked with training the Afghan Army.

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