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Spanish soldier dies in Afghan bomb attack

  • Story Highlights
  • Spanish soldier killed, five others were wounded in Afghanistan
  • Incident occurred when patrol vehicle struck a hidden bomb in country's west
  • Spanish military death toll in Afghanistan now tops 22
By Al Goodman
CNN Madrid Bureau Chief
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish soldier was killed and five others were wounded on Wednesday when their patrol vehicle struck a hidden bomb in western Afghanistan, Spain's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The explosion of the improvised device came at 9:30 a.m. local time when the Spanish troops were on patrol in a 11-vehicle convoy near Syah Washan, close to Herat, the base for many of Spain's troops in the country.

The blast hit a Spanish military vehicle carrying six soldiers, fatally wounding Cpl. Ancor Cabello Santana, who died soon after at a nearby military hospital. The five others were reported to have slight wounds.

The patrol aimed to demonstrate Spain's troop presence and dismantle militant check points in the Pasthun Zarghun district, east of Herat, the ministry statement said.

Spain has had troops in Afghanistan since 2002, and more than 22 Spanish soldiers have died there, including two in November 2008 when a suicide bomber rammed their convoy, and 17 in a helicopter crash in August 2005.

In May 2003, 62 Spanish peacekeeping troops returning from Afghanistan and other nearby countries died when their plane crashed in Turkey.

The Spanish government last month agreed to send 220 more troops to Afghanistan, which will raise Spain's permanent total to about 1,000.

That announcement came just ahead of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez's bilateral visit with President Barack Obama at the White House, set for Tuesday.

Spain currently has about 1,200 troops in Afghanistan. This includes 450 who are on temporary assignment to provide security for the recent Afghan presidential elections.

Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chachon visited the troops in Afghanistan last week.

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