The Albanian Armed Forces and relatives paid homage today to First Lieutenant Zarife Hasanaj, who was tragically killed in a mine explosion in Latvia.

Relatives, friends and high state officials all paid their tributes to the first lieutenant that died in the line of duty. After this ceremony, her body will be sent to the Cemetery of the Martyrs, where she will rest under the moniker "Mother Albania".

May 10th has been proclaimed a National Day of Mourning in honour of the first lieutenant, as announced today by the Ministry of Defence.

Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruçi, Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, Interior Minister Sandër Lleshaj and Defense Minister Olta Xhaçka all attended the ceremony.

In addition to the above-mentioned officials, also present at the memorial ceremony were the President of the country, Ilir Meta, Brigadier General, Bardhyl Kollçaku and Socialist MP, Taulant Balla.

Minister of Defence, Olta Xhaçka held an emotional speech in the homage ceremony on the first lieutenant, Zarife Hasanaj, who died in the line of duty due to a mine explosion in Latvia.

Minister Xhaçka said that in addition to the deep sadness, she even felt pride and respect for all the Albanians who sacrificed everything in service of the country.

“It is not easy to choose farewell words for your beloved daughter and sister, our colleague and friend, because none of us had thought such a grave event could occur.

“None of us had thought that Zarife Hasanaj, with her vitality and love of life, would leave us in such an abrupt way.

“Our words will never fill the void you left us. Hasanaj was an example to all girls wanting to join the Armed Forces. She was one of the best officers and I believe that she would have had a great career ahead.

“We lost one of the best we had, and it will be very difficult to replace her. This is a painful moment for all of us. Rest in peace,” said Minister Xhaçka in her speech.

The Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, was also present at the homage and held a short speech in honour of the fallen lieutenant.

“I want to express my deepest condolences as a Premier, as a citizen and as a parent to the relatives of Hasanaj.

“This woman, draped in the national flag, is the embodiment of the everyday truth of loyalty, commitment and sacrifice to the homeland.

“There is a large group of men and women that live with the mission of protecting us from any external threat, so as to give our country its deserved dignity,” said Rama during his speech.