Saturday, April 19, 2008

New Dutch army chief's son killed in Afghanistan

War takes its toll on one and all and the saddest part is that an occasion for celebration for the Dutch army chief turned into a moment for mourning. The force he heads, has in a way consumed his child.

The son of the Netherlands' newly-sworn in army chief Peter van Uhm was killed Friday in a bomb attack in Afghanistan, one day after his father took over the command of the Dutch army.

Another soldier was killed and two others seriously injured when their vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device about 12 kilometers northwest of the Dutch base at Camp Holland in the southern province of Uruzgan, the Dutch government said in a statement.

23-year-old First Lieutenant Dennis van Uhm who was killed in Afghanistan on Friday when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.
The blast happened while the soldiers were returning from a surveillance operation to the Dutch base on Friday morning.

Van Uhm took over from Dick Berlijn as commander of the Dutch armed forces on Thursday.

At present there is no reason to believe that Dennis van Uhm, 23, was specifically targeted, the statement said.

Acting army chief Freek Meulman was quoted by Dutch media as saying that while journalists were aware of his presence, the issue had been kept quiet on the Defense Ministry's request due to concerns of possible higher risks.

Dutch Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop told a news conference on Friday he had given Van Uhm immediate leave to concentrate on his personal situation.

Friday's attack brought the total number of Dutch soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 16.

The Netherlands has some 1,700 soldiers in the country and decided at the end of last year to extend its mission until the end of 2010.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting Friday, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said that the ministers were greatly dismayed by the report, but the Netherlands "will continue along our chosen path with strength and unity."

My heart goes out to all who lose their precious near and dear ones in this human misadventure irrespective of their nationality, color, creed or belief.

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