Lithuanian soldiers fired multiple shots during a NATO exercise in the capital Riga last week, causing many civilians to panic.
Latvian troops on September 11 participated in a real-life training exercise in Riga, within the framework of NATO’s Namejs 2021 exercise. Video on social media shows Latvian soldiers hiding behind trees, cars, and building steps, constantly firing at mock targets.
Latvian soldiers apparently used non-lethal cavalry shells during the drills, but they didn’t separate the training area, so many civilians still entered the drills. Video shows a woman carrying her child walking past as the soldier opened fire, causing the baby to startle and cry out.
Many people objected to the unannounced exercise by the Lithuanian army, some saying that the people of the capital Riga should at least be informed via text message about the operation. Others insisted that military drill areas should be designated separately and barred from entering by civilians.
The Latvian Ministry of Defense later confirmed that it used unwarranted munitions in training and did not pose any threat to the civilian population. “We only use ammunition that creates an explosion, which does not endanger the health and lives of civilians in such drills,” the Latvian Defense Ministry said.
However, the agency also apologized for “causing serious misunderstanding” and asked the people for understanding for the incident.
The combat training session in Riga is part of NATO’s Namejs 2021 exercise, which took place from August 30 to October 3 at many locations in Latvia. About 9,300 soldiers of NATO members participated in the Namejs 2021 exercise.
The Latvian Defense Ministry said three soldiers were injured, two of them hospitalized, in an accident during a drill on September 11, but did not detail where or how.
Nguyen Tien (Follow RT)