TBILISI - Three Georgian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan while serving alongside Nato-led forces fighting the Taliban, the defence ministry in Tbilisi said on Wednesday. “The Georgian military servicemen died while they were carrying out combat tasks. Their combat vehicle exploded following an insurgent attack,” the ministry said in a statement. The statement said that the three corporals, named as Valiko Beraia, Ruslan Meladze and Paata Kacharava, died in the volatile Helmand province.

Their deaths take the total number of Georgian troops killed in Afghanistan to 15.

“This is a very painful blow for me especially after my recent visit to Afghanistan, where I saw how bravely they were fulfilling extremely risky tasks,” Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said in a statement.