Canadian Diplomat Killed

I think not
OTTAWA (CP) - A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb in the middle of a Canadian military convoy in Afghanistan on Sunday, killing the region's senior Foreign Affairs officer and wounding three Canadian soldiers.

Defence Department officials identified the dead man as Glyn Berry, 59, a political director posted with the 250-member provincial reconstruction team which is conducting liaison and humanitarian work around Kandahar.

Three Canadian soldiers were wounded in the blast - Pte. William Edward Salikin of 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment and Master Cpl. Paul Franklin of 1 Field Ambulance, Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais told a news conference.

All were based in Edmonton. Their hometowns were not immediately available.

Two of the three were in critical condition with life-threatening injuries, Dumais said. They were expected to be flown to a U.S. military hospital in Germany as soon as they could be moved.

"On behalf of the government of Canada and all Canadians, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Glyn Berry," Prime Minister Paul Martin said.

"I join all Canadians in also wishing ... the three Canadian soldiers who were injured a speedy and complete recovery."

The flag atop the Peace Tower in Ottawa, as well as those at several embassies, flew at half-staff on Sunday.

The Canadians were returning to base in enclosed armoured Mercedes jeeps, known as G-Wagons, from a meeting with local leaders. They were about a kilometre southeast of Kandahar when the vehicle-borne bomb exploded.

The attack occurred as the convoy approached a crowded bus stop on the main road to the camp at about 1:30 p.m. local time, or 4 a.m. ET. A U.S. army helicopter evacuated the dead and wounded to the local base hospital.

A second Canadian vehicle was damaged but no other Canadians were hurt. Nine Canadians have been killed in Afghanistan since 2002.

Witnesses said at least two Afghan civilians were killed and 10 wounded.

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.

Another witness said a taxi swerved into the convoy and blew up.

Col. Steve Noonan, head of Task Force Afghanistan, said from Kandahar the Canadians, who have disabled potential attackers with gunfire before, had no time to fire on the vehicle or try to prevent the attack.

"They did not see the attacker and they did not have time to react," Noonan said. They knew they were being attacked "when the bomb exploded."

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

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

The fighting normally eases during the winter months but the recent attacks point to a possible new strategy being used by pro-Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

"In any theatre of operations, there's a tactic-counter tactic and adaptation as each side feels each other out," said Noonan.

"There has been a change in tactics from the anti-coalition militia because they were not successful in their previous tactics. We are reasonably comfortable that our reaction to this one will be just as successful ... as the previous campaign."

Canada has about 650 troops in Afghanistan, nearly all in Kandahar. Ottawa plans to increase the Canadian military presence in Kandahar to 2,000 next month.

The reconstruction team and the main battle group are slated to receive about 43 new Nyala mine-resistant vehicles. Dumais said there is no way to know if they would have made a difference in Sunday's attack.

"It's impossible to be ready for all attacks," said Dumais, the deputy chief of defence staff. "With an explosion of that magnitude, it's not clear that any vehicle would survive or that there wouldn't be any casualties."

Canadian officials 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 spiked last year, killing about 1,600 people, the most since 2001.

Berry, who was born in Britain, had served with Foreign Affairs since 1977 before giving his life in what the prime minister called "the pursuit of peace and stability."

He had most recently served as head of the political section of Canada's mission at the United Nations in New York.

The deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Harder, said Berry had been planning a vacation to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Harder said Berry's wife Valerie talked "touchingly" about how committed her husband had been to the Afghan mission and how "he felt he was making a difference working with real people to change lives."

"We've lost a colleague and a friend," he said.

Martin said Canada's work in Afghanistan will continue.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper also expressed his condolences on behalf of his party, saying Canadians serving abroad put their lives on the line every day in the name of freedom and democracy.

"For that, we are very grateful," Harper said. "This incident is a reminder that we cannot take our security for granted - that those who serve face dangers we can only imagine.

Link (external - login to view)
"every time you kill an angry young man overseas, you're creating 15 more who will come after you."

Major General Andrew Leslie, Canadian Army
Explaining why Canada had to be in Afghanistan for 20 years (external - login to view)

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