Suicide attacker injures five Canadian soldiers


A suicide bomber drove his vehicle into the side of an armoured vehicle Friday and detonated his explosives, injuring five Canadian soldiers -- one seriously.

The attack -- the first against a LAV III vehicle -- came as coalition forces were mourning the death of Canadian Cpl. Paul Davis, who died Thursday when his armoured vehicle rolled over.

Friday's attack left a large crater in the road, and the blast was loud enough that it could be heard by soldiers several kilometres away.

One soldier was critically injured but he will survive, said Dr. Scott Taylor, the head orthopedic surgeon at the Canadian hospital at Kandahar.

The soldier, identified as Master-Cpl. Michael Loewen, will be airlifted to the U.S. medical facility in Lundstahl, Germany.
"He has injuries around his elbow and wrist,'' Taylor said, The Canadian Press reported. "The final outcome won't be known for some time to come. But he's stable otherwise.''

Four other soldiers received minor injures, after an unidentified attacker driving a white Toyota Corolla drove his vehicle into the four-vehicle convoy that was carrying the Canadian patrol and triggered his explosives.

The destroyed armoured vehicle was one of four targeted by the bomber.

In a strange twist, the convoy was carrying members of the board of inquiry from Ottawa that is in Kandahar to investigate the attack that killed Foreign Affairs official Glyn Berry and wounded three (Canadian) soldiers last month.
None of the members of the board were injured.

The bombing came after soldiers at the provincial reconstruction base in downtown Kandahar were warned there were suicide attackers in the city looking for targets.

The wounded soldiers were evacuated to the Kandahar Airfield in a Bison armoured vehicle, which caught fire on the way. The injured men had to be transferred to a military G-wagon to complete the trip.

Corporal honoured

Just hours after Friday's mid-morning attack, the body of Cpl. Davis was put on a military plane headed for Canada.
A piper played Amazing Grace as soldiers carried Davis's coffin into the hold of a Canadian C-130 cargo plane between the flags of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Several hundred soldiers from a half-dozen coalition countries lined the tarmac for the ceremony, which began with scripture and ended with a brewing dust storm over Kandahar Airfield.

Several hundred soldiers from at least seven coalition countries lined the tarmac for the ceremony on the Kandahar airfield base.
"Seldom in Canadian history have so many troops been gathered in solemn ceremony in theatre, during an actual military operation -- shifting focus from the dangerous streets beyond this base to a brother going home," said Col. Tom Putt, deputy commander of Task Force Afghanistan.

Davis, 28, of Bridgewater, N.S., was killed after the armoured vehicle he was riding in collided with a taxi, swerved into a ditch and overturned.

Six soldiers were injured, two critically. An Afghan interpreter was also hurt in the rollover.

Four of the Canadian soldiers injured Thursday are receiving treatment in Landstuhl.

While Thursday's LAV III crash was deadly, Lieut. (Navy) Mark MacIntyre from Kandahar Airfield said the armoured vehicle probably saved the lives of the soldiers on Friday.

"It was quite a blast from all reports, but the vehicle itself stood up pretty well, the soldiers that were injured were protected in part by the armour from the vehicle,'' he said.

"Of course we still sustain injuries, unfortunately.''

The seriously injured soldier was outside of the hatch, in the air sentry position out back, where he has machine guns trained on any potential attackers.

"And this is the position that often where we see the injuries occur," said CTV's Steve Chao, reporting from Kandahar.

Mounting casualties

Ten Canadians have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002, including Davis and Berry.

Four soldiers were killed by U.S. friendly fire. Anti-tank mines killed two soldiers, a suicide bomber killed one, and one died in another road accident.

As well, at least 11 people have been injured in three military vehicle accidents.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay told reporters Friday that Canada's commitment in Afghanistan remains steadfast in spite of the mounting casualties.

"We've had a number of meetings over the past number of days with (Chief of Defence Staff) General (Rick) Hiller. We have extremely confident, professional troops doing the important work to elevate the people of Afghanistan and their struggles there. We don't intend to back away from that commitment."

There are close to 2,200 Canadian troops in Afghanistan, working as part of a multinational force in southern Afghanistan, led by a Canadian -- Brig.-Gen. David Fraser.

Fraser took over the force earlier this week. At the time, U.S. commanders warned to expect increased attacks into the spring and summer, especially with the build up of troops.

Many of the attacks against coalition forces have taken place in Kandahar province -- a bastion for the Taliban before they were overthrown by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

Canadian soldiers are particularly cautious on a notorious stretch of highway they have nicknamed "IED Alley" -- for improvised explosive device.

"The key right now is really to keep the insurgents guessing as to where the patrols will happen," said Chao.
Well, it could be said that what the article highlights is the benefits of a light armored vehicle compared to an up-armored humvee or landrover. A grim story nevertheless.

I hear that the Strykers and LAVIIIs have been doing pretty well, despite not being everyone's cup of tea. We Brits don't really have anything like that (beyond a few old Saracen vehicles that we park up near Heathrow whenever Usama decides to take a pop at Easyjet).