The son of the Netherland’s newly-sworn in armed forces chief Peter van Uhm has been killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan.
One other soldier was killed and two seriously injured in the blast, which happened while the soldiers were returning from a surveillance operation to the Dutch base at Camp Holland on Friday morning.
Van Uhm took over from Dick Berlijn as commander of the Dutch armed forces on Thursday.
Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop told a news conference on Friday he had given Van Uhm immediate leave to concentrate on his personal situation.
The contrast between party atmosphere yesterday, when he took over command of the Dutch armed forces, and today’s tragedy could not be greater, Van Middelkoop said.
Acting army chief Freek Meulman said there is ‘absolutely no reason’ to think that lieutenant Dennis van Uhm (23) had been singled out for the attack.
While journalists were aware of his presence, the issue had been kept quiet on the defence ministry’s request because of fears of a ‘prince Harry’ effect, he said.
The British prince was recalled from Afghanistan in February after reporters broke the news of his presence.
Today’s attack brings the total number of Dutch soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 16.
The Netherlands has some 1,700 soldiers in the country and agreed at the end of last year to extend its contribution to the Nato rebuilding efforts to August 2010.
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