TBILISI (Reuters) - Three Georgian soldiers were killed and 13 injured on Tuesday when a mortar bomb exploded during exercises on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi, the Defense Ministry said.
The blast occurred at the Krtsanisi military training base, where U.S. ally Georgia trains soldiers for deployment in Afghanistan.
The ministry blamed “technical error” during training of the 1st Artillery Brigade.
“The explosion of a 120 mm mortar occurred due to a technical error during training,” it said in a statement. “Three servicemen died and 13 were injured.”
Local media reports said the injured soldiers were being treated in the town of Rustavi south of Tbilisi. The extent of their injuries were not known.
Some 900 Georgian soldiers have been deployed in Afghanistan since April last year, mainly in the violent southern province of Helmand.
The former Soviet republic says it wants to join NATO, but faces opposition from neighbouring Russia.
Georgia had 2,000 soldiers in Iraq but pulled them out in August 2008 after war erupted between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway pro-Russian region of South Ossetia.
Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Paul Taylor