Suicide attack on Canadian convoy in Afghanistan

January 17th, 2006  

Topic: Suicide attack on Canadian convoy in Afghanistan

KABUL (CP) - A car driven by an apparent suicide car bomber swerved into a military convoy and exploded Sunday in the southern city of Kandahar, killing one Canadian civilian and wounding three Canadian soldiers.

Officials in Afghanistan said two Afghan civilians were also killed and 10 others injured in the blast.
The Canadian casualties, part of a 250-member provincial reconstruction team working out of Kandahar, were announced by Prime Minister Paul Martin, who was campaigning in Laval, Que.

"There was a tragic incident near Kandahar in Afghanistan, where one Canadian was killed and three others were injured," Martin said.

"On behalf of all Canadians, I want to express my condolences to the family of the individual who was killed and our prayers and best wishes to the family of the deceased and to the families of the injured."

Martin did not provide further details of the incident, saying only some of the families of those involved have been contacted. But a military source confirmed to The Canadian Press that the dead Canadian was a civilian.

The prime minister said: "Our participation in the mission in Kandahar is essential to establishing peace and security. It's in a nation that's struggling to find its way."

Kandahar shopkeeper Rahim Gul, who saw the attack, said a sedan blew up as it was passing the convoy.
"The explosion was so big: it destroyed one jeep and blew it totally to the other side of the road," he said, adding he saw three soldiers among the casualties.

U.S. military spokesman Lieut. Mike Cody confirmed there were three coalition soldiers wounded in the attack but declined to disclose their nationality.

Reports quoted a witness saying he saw three Canadian soldiers loaded onto stretchers and taken to an airbase hospital. The witness said a taxi swerved into the convoy and blew up.

The blast occurred as the convoy was moving near the Canadian base in Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold, said Dad Mohammed Rasa, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

Rasa said at least two civilians were killed and 10 wounded, and an unspecified number of Canadian troops were hurt.
A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammed Yousaf, called The Associated Press and claimed responsibility, warning that "these attacks will continue for a long time. We have many more suicide attackers ready to go."

"We will continue this strategy until all foreign forces leave Afghanistan," he said.

There have been about 25 suicide bombings in the past four months in Afghanistan - a relatively new tactic for militants here and one that has reinforced fears that this country may see more assaults modeled on those in Iraq.

Canada has about about 650 troops in Afghanistan, nearly all in Kandahar. Ottawa plans to increase the Canadian military presence in Kandahar to 2,000 next month. Canadian commanders have spoken about the dangers the troops face in the volatile southern region of Afghanistan and warned the public to expect casualties.

The recent string of suicide attacks is happening four years after the U.S.-led coalition ousted the radical Taliban regime from power in Afghanistan for hosting Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader believed to be the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Violence across southern and eastern Afghanistan had spiked last year, leaving about 1,600 people dead, the most since 2001. The fighting normally eases during the winter months, when snow blankets the region, but the recent attacks point to a possible new strategy being used by pro-Taliban forces in Afghanistan.