4 CDN killed in Afganistan

September 18th, 2006  

Topic: 4 CDN killed in Afganistan

Suicide bomber kills 4 Canadian soldiers

Four Canadian soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber on a bicycle in southern Afghanistan on Monday while the troops were conducting a security patrol, according to the Canadian military.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families affected," said Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, the Canadian commander in southern Afghanistan. He did not release names of the dead and injured because their families are still being notified.

The bombing injured 27 civilians, including children, according to a statement by NATO. The Taliban has claimed responsibility. The attack occurred at 9:30 a.m. local time, about 30 kilometres west of Kandahar City.

Fraser said the suicide bomber rode his bicycle into a group of soldiers and civilians and detonated the explosive device. The military believes the device was attached to the bicycle.

"The soldiers were interacting with the people," Fraser said. "They have to do that."

He said the wounded soldiers were in stable condition, with non-life threatening injuries, and they had been taken by helicopter to various military medical facilities in the region, including the Canadian-led multinational hospital at Kandahar airfield.

Two Afghan children injured in the attack were taken to the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team's camp in Kandahar City for treatment.

37 Canadians killed since 2002

With the latest deaths, 36 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed since the Canadian mission to the country began in 2002.

"The Taliban is a bunch of cowards," Fraser told reporters in Kandahar. "The Taliban continue to attack this country. They continue to attack the people. They attacked children today. That's about as cowardly as you can get." Earlier reports said the soldiers were handing out notebooks, pens and candy to children at the time of the attack, but Fraser would say only that the troops had been on patrol and were helping Afghan forces to provide a secure environment so that people could return to their homes after a military operation in the area.

The two-week NATO-led operation, known as Operation Medusa, displaced people living west of Kandahar. The bombing occurred in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province, where the operation against the Taliban ended Sunday.

"This is our main effort right now," Fraser said, "helping the people get back to a normal life, and today, the Taliban attacked that."

Officials said two other bombings in Afghanistan on Monday killed a total of 13 Afghans. The other bombings occurred in Kabul and in the western part of the country.

Reconstruction is 'the overarching goal'

The Department of National Defence in Ottawa condemned the bicycle bombing, saying: "Cowardly Taliban attacks like this are an attempt to undermine Canadian and international efforts to help the Afghan people achieve peace and security."

"Reconstruction of Afghanistan, the overarching goal of Canada and of the international community, is inhibited by insurgency," the department said in a statement. "The Taliban have proven time and time again that they are opposed to the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the improvement of conditions for all Afghans."

NATO spokesman Mark Laity told CBC News earlier that officials were trying to determine the exact number of soldiers and civilians wounded in the first attack, but when suicide bombings occur, sometimes injured Afghan people make their own way to hospital and the exact casualty count is not clear.

"It's a fairly chaotic scene," he said. "We are not yet certain how many civilians were involved. At the moment, the number seems small."
NATO has said its troops killed more than 500 insurgents in the operation and called it a success, even though violence continues in the south.
"After the success of the Operation Medusa, where we pushed the Taliban out of a large area, we are trying to set up the conditions for non-combat rebuilding and reconstruction. So this was not a combat scene," Laity said.

'They are not defeated'

He said the Taliban remain a threat to the region. "They are not defeated. They suffered a significant defeat but they are still there and they are still active."

Canada has more than 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, mostly in the Kandahar region. On Friday, the Harper government announced that it was increasing the country's troop commitment to 2,500.

Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, who claims to be a spokesman for Taliban affairs in southern Afghanistan, told the Associated Press that Monday's bomber was an Afghan from Kandahar named Mullah Qudrat Ullah.

Ahmadi, whose ties to the Taliban are not known, said militants will continue attacking U.S., NATO and other coalition forces.
Fraser said Canadian troops will continue their humanitarian efforts, which will include handing out food, tarps and tractors to displaced people in southern Afghanistan.
September 18th, 2006  
Team Infidel

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