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News - Afghanistan - 19 Dec 2010

News Item 17 of 28 

Afghanistan: 19 Dec 2010
Canadian Soldier killed in Kandahar bomb blast

Cpl. Steve Martin
Credit: DND

THE CANADIAN PRESS -- A Canadian soldier is dead following a bomb blast in the vicinity of a major road construction project that NATO is pushing in a volatile district of Kandahar.

Cpl. Steve Martin, 24, from 3rd Battalion Royal 22e Regiment, was killed by an improvised explosive device, or IED, while on foot patrol early Saturday afternoon, local time.

He died two days before his 25th birthday.

Martin was serving with Parachute Company of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment battle group, based at CFB Valcartier, Quebec.

His company deployed to the volatile Panjwaii district last month.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the fallen soldier during this difficult time," said Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

"We will not forget the sacrifice of this soldier as we continue to bring security and hope to the people of Kandahar province."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a written statement on behalf of all Canadians extending his deepest sympathies to Martin's family and friends.

"Cpl. Martin was a brave Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice while proudly serving his country," the statement said.

"Thanks to Canadian Forces members like him, we continue to make real progress in Afghanistan, rebuilding the country and contributing to the peace and security of its people."

Governor General David Johnston also issued a statement offering his deepest sympathies to Cpl. Martin's loved ones.

"Cpl. Martin displayed an admirable sense of duty to Canada, bringing great pride to his unit and to the Forces as a whole," he wrote.

Johnston added that with Martin's death he now feels the weight of his new responsibilities as commander-in-chief of Canada's Armed Forces.

Martin was on patrol near a road that NATO forces are carving in the horn of Panjwaii, an area that until recently was dominated by the Taliban and used as a staging point for attacks towards the provincial capital.

Although most insurgent fighters fled the area during an initial American assault, some bomb-laying cells have continued to operate in the region as tanks and graders lay down the gravel thoroughfare.

There have been daily reports of the Taliban trying to sprinkle the path ahead of the troops with bombs.

Saturday's attack shattered a period of relative calm in the troubled Panjwaii district, where most of Canada's troops are based.

It is the first combat death the army has suffered since Cpl. Brian Pinksen died of wounds in hospital on Aug. 26, four days after being caught in a roadside bombing.

Although the onset of winter has meant a decline in attacks, the army has still suffered a number of wounded.

The Defence Department, however, refuses to report on injuries, claiming that information is an operational secret.

Anecdotally, it is known that at least three soldiers have been wounded since the Valcartier, Que. based Van Doo battle group deployed.

The military would not say if anyone else was wounded in the bombing that claimed Martin's life.

Earlier this month, Canadian and Afghan troops were hunting a two man bomb-making team in the general area of the attack that killed Martin. The soldiers conducted a clearing operation meant to flush them out after two others accidentally killed themselves while hanging an explosive in a tree.

To date, 154 Canadian soldiers have died as a result of the Afghan mission. The figure includes combat deaths, suicides and one death by natural causes.

The bombing that killed Cpl. Martin preceded a suicide attack Saturday on the vehicle of an Afghan district chief in the Canadian area of operations.

The attack on District Governor Hamdullah Nazik happened when a car packed with explosives tried to ram his vehicle as he drove home. The bomber missed and plowed into bystanders killing two people, including a child, and wounding 11 others.

Nazik was unharmed.

Last week, a suicide car bomber struck at the gates of an American outpost in Howz-e-Madad, in Zharey district, killing six soldiers. That area is just across the Arghandab River from Canadian positions.

The Taliban vowed to keep up a winter campaign against NATO forces in southern Afghanistan and last month issued a rare appeal for funds.

CBC NEWS/jm
 

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