Body of missing Georgian soldier found in southern Afghanistan
The body of a Georgian soldier who had been missing since Dec. 18 was discovered yesterday by Afghan police in the restive Musa Qala district of Helmand province. The Georgian Defense Ministry confirmed that the body of Sergeant Giorgi Kikadze had been found on Saturday.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) also acknowledged the development in a press statement:
The body of the Georgian soldier who was reported missing Dec. 18 was found by members of the Afghan police yesterday in southern Afghanistan. The police recovered the body and turned him over to members of the International Security Assistance Force.
The circumstances of the soldier's capture and death are under investigation. For further information, contact the Georgian Ministry of Defense.
Police found Kikadze's body Saturday afternoon in an empty compound south of the town of Musa Qala, district police chief Abdul Latif Alizai told Stars and Stripes. Alizai further noted that it appeared Kikadze had been badly beaten and stabbed before being shot in the head four times.
More from Stars and Stripes:
A mid-level Taliban commander in Helmand disputed ISAF's account, saying Kikadze was captured after a firefight three weeks ago when he was left behind by fleeing comrades after insurgents destroyed two Georgian vehicles.
The commander said the Taliban had tried to negotiate a prisoner exchange with ISAF and executed Kikadze when ISAF refused... An ISAF official said there is no evidence Kikadze was captured following a battle, and that he was reported missing Dec. 18, not three weeks ago. The official had no information about any proposed prisoner exchange.
The death of Sergeant Kikadze marks the 19th Georgian soldier to have been killed in Afghanistan since the country joined the international military operation in Afghanistan in 2009. Eight Georgian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year alone. Georgia is the largest contributor of troops to Afghanistan among non-NATO nations, with 1,560 troops currently serving in the country. Georgia currently has two battalions in Helmand province -- the 12th battalion of the first infantry brigade, and the 32nd battalion of the third infantry brigade.