TWO members of the Spanish armed forces have been killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, which also left another three injured.
The deceased are Sergeant Manuel Argudín Perrino, from Gijón (Asturias), and Niyireth Pineda Marín - a Spanish national, although she was originally born in Colombia - both of whom were in their 20s.
This is just a week after four other Spanish soldiers were injured in a blast, two of whom are in a critical condition.
Niyireth and Manuel were travelling in an army vehicle with blacked-out windows, one of a patrol of seven, along a main road running through the town of Qala-i-Naw when they drove over a landmine, said to have been made of at least 20 kilos (44 pounds) of explosives.
They were taking part in a mission that the government has qualified as the 'toughest' and 'most dangerous' in the last decade.
The landmine, placed by rebel forces, was activated when the first of the patrol of seven crossed it and blew off the side of the vehicle where Niyireth and Manuel were sitting.
They were killed instantly.
Rubén Velázquez Herrera suffered multiple bruising, and Johny Alirio Herrera Trejos and Roi Villa Souto broke both their legs.
All politicians in Spain, plus King Juan Carlos, have condemned the attack and expressed their condolences to the victims' families.
Defence minister Carme Chacón has travelled to Afghanistan today to arrange for the bodies to be repatriated.
The blast occurred just days after the Spanish government announced that it would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
Since the military occupation of Afghanistan in 2002, a total of 96 Spaniards – 93 soldiers, two police officers and an interpreter – have been killed.
They include 13 armed attacks, 79 aircraft crashes, two traffic accidents and two deaths from natural causes.
More deaths among Spaniards have been seen in Afghanistan than in any other international mission, followed only by that of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where 23 were killed.