Four Italian Soldiers Wounded in Afghanistan Blast

Four Italian soldiers were wounded in a blast this morning in the western Afghanistan province of Herat, an Italian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The soldiers were injured when a bomb exploded on a road 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the town of Shindand, Emanuele Cicerchia in the Italian army’s press office in Rome, said by phone. “None of the soldiers is in serious condition.”

About 3,000 Italian soldiers are in Afghanistan, mostly around Herat. Six Italian soldiers were killed when a car bomb exploded on Sept. 17 in Kabul, the deadliest attack against Italy’s forces in the country. On Oct. 28 Italy set aside 224.8 million euros ($332.2 million) to maintain its foreign- peacekeeping missions through the end of the year.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government said last month it never authorized payments to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, calling “absolute trash” a report in the London- based Times that the country’s secret services bribed warlords to keep some areas peaceful.

U.S. President Barack Obama was “impressed by the emphasis” Berlusconi put on the “need for peacekeepers to earn and maintain the support of local populations” in missions in Afghanistan and other countries, the Italian Prime Minister’s press office said yesterday in a statement quoting excerpts from a letter sent by Obama to Berlusconi.