Six Italian soldiers were killed by a suicide car bomber in central Kabul, Afghanistan on September 17, one of which was a Sesto Fiorentino resident. It was the biggest loss of life in Italy's five-year presence in Afghanistan, and the deadliest attack since Al-Qaeda's assault on an Italian military base in Nassiriya, Iraq in 2003, which killed 19 people.
The car bomb attack, which was claimed by the Taliban, hit two armored cars on a road between the Western diplomatic compound and the city's airport. It killed all five soldiers in the first armored Lince car, which took the brunt of the blast. The sixth soldier died in the second car, and another four soldiers were wounded. The soldiers killed were all from the Folgore and Nembo paratrooper regiments based in Tuscany, which are often involved in peacekeeping missions abroad.
Among the dead was sergeant major Massimiliano Randino who was a resident of Sesto Fiorentino. Born in Salerno, he lived in Sesto Fiorentino with his wife of five years. Randino was on his third mission to Afghanistan and had just arrived there on the morning of the attack.
Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa told the Italian Senate, ‘The infamous, cowardly aggressors who have struck once again in the most insidious manner, does not alter the fact that international organizations have decided (to conduct) this mission and want to continue with it. We remain unshaken in our conviction that all our assessments have been made in full accordance with the international community and that they will continue to be'.
Italy says it will stay the course in Afghanistan despite calls from the opposition to pull out Italian troops from the war-torn area. The attack came two weeks after a NATO air strike killed 69 Taliban fighters and 30 civilians. Officials believe the suicide bomb attack was carried out in response to the NATO strike.
Twenty Italian soldiers in the NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) have been killed since Italy's mission in Afghanistan began in 2004. No previous attack in Afghanistan has killed more than two Italians.
Italy recently sent 500 additional men to Afghanistan to help local police during last month's elections. These were in addition to the 2,795 soldiers already deployed there, the majority of which are in the western area of Herat and in the capital Kabul.
Italy currently has the fourth-largest contingent after the United States (28,850), Britain (8,300) and Germany (3,380).