Canadian Soldier Killed Outside Kandahar

Johnny Utah

Canadian Soldier Killed Outside Kandahar
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - A Canadian soldier is dead and three others were wounded after a vicious firefight with Taliban insurgents, north of Kandahar.

The action took place last night in Helmund Province. The soldier is identified as Pte. Robert Costall, of the 1st Battlion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton. His hometown was not available. The names of the wounded were not available. A U.S. soldier was also killed in the battle.

Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, commander of Task Force Afghanistan, said Taiban forces attacked coalition troops, who had been sent to the area after the recent death of eight Afghan army soldiers.

He said Costall died defending his fellow soldiers but refused to give out further details of the battle.

There are about 2,200 Canadian soldiers currently serving with the coalition in Afghanistan.

The latest incident followed a series of attacks on Tuesday in the Kandahar region, including a rocket attack on the base where Canadian troops are based.

The shelling came only hours after two suspected Taliban militants - likely plotting a suicide attack - inadvertently blew themselves up in a cemetery in central Kandahar.

A succession of attacks with roadside bombs - known as improvised explosive device or IED - occurred throughout the day, killing at least six people and injuring three.

In a cellphone interview with The Canadian Press, conducted through a translator, a spokesman for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the day's carnage. Qari Yousef Ahmadi said ordinary Afghans were not the targets, but unfortunate victims. "They are dead mistakenly," he said.

"As we have mentioned before, let the weather be a bit warmer, we will start doing (more) attacks against Canadians."

The Taliban have been warning for weeks that they intended to go on the offensive this spring - a claim flatly dismissed by the commander of the Canadian battle group in Kandahar.

"The events of the past 24 hours are nothing remarkable in terms of the events of the last five or six months," said Lieut.-Col. Ian Hope.

"I do not expect a spring offensive here. I do expect a continuation of their efforts to have spectacular attacks and suicide bombings, particularly against coalition forces. They're aimed more at creating a sensational effect on the international stage than they are at actually stopping our efforts here, which they won't."

Until this week, 11 Canadians have been killed in the turbulent country since 2002 - 10 of them soldiers and one a Canadian diplomat.

Four Canadians died when they were mistakenly bombed by a U.S. fighter jet while on a training mission. Four were killed in suicide attacks or roadside bombs, while three died in two separate vehicle accidents.

The troops are committed in the region until early next year, although Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier has warned the international community may ask for continued support until a NATO-run mission ends in 2011. (external - login to view)

A sad day for the Canadian Military and the family of the Canadian Soldier. It's also a sad day for The U.S. Military and the family of the American Soldier.

The Canadian Soldier's sacrifice was not in vain as the sacrifices before him by other Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan were not in vain.
Indeed, a sad day. My condolences go out to the man's family and friends.
A fine looking soldier indeed.

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