3 Canadian troops killed in Afghanistan
Three Canadian troops were killed in Afghanistan Saturday, bringing to 103 Canada's death toll since it its military mission began there in 2002, the Defense Ministry said.world Updated: Dec 14, 2008 07:42 IST
Three Canadian troops were killed in Afghanistan Saturday, bringing to 103 Canada's death toll since it its military mission began there in 2002, the Defense Ministry said.
The three soldiers were killed and another was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their armored vehicle while on patrol in the Arghandab district of southern Kandahar province, a ministry statement said.
The deaths bring the number of Canadian service members killed in war-torn Afghanistan to 103 since Ottawa deployed forces there in 2002.
One Canadian diplomat and two humanitarian workers have also been killed in Afghanistan.
Three other Canadian soldiers were also killed in Arghandab by a roadside bomb on December 5.
Canada has a 2,750-strong force in southern Afghanistan.
Canada on Thursday said its mission in Afghanistan would last until 2011, after US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates suggested during a visit to Kandahar that he would welcome an extension from Ottawa.
But Canada's Parliament "has decided that our mission there ends in 2011," said Dan Dugas, spokesman for Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay.
While campaigning for the October legislative elections that his party won, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada did not agree to a further extension of the Canadian mission beyond 2011.
Observers expected, however, that Canada would be pressured to maintain troops in the country beyond that date due to the importance given to the Afghan mission by US president-elect Barack Obama, who will take office on January 20.
During a visit to Kandahar, Gates acknowledged Thursday the role and sacrifices of Canadian forces in Afghanistan since Ottawa deployed forces in the country in 2002.
No other country partnered with the United States has "worked harder or sacrificed more than the Canadians," he said in comments, broadcast by CBC television, that have been seen as indicating the desire to see the Canadian contingent stay beyond 2011.
"They have been outstanding partners for us, and all I can tell you is ... the longer we can have Canadian soldiers as our partners, the better it is," he said.
The commander of the Canadian forces in Afghanistan, General Denis Thompson, when the death toll hit 100 told reporters that Canadian troops had been involved in tough fighting in the area.
"We've been leaning on the enemy quite hard the last three months ... Fighting "terrorism and injustice is not easy," he said, adding that the effort "requires sacrifices."
Thompson said the death toll was not something the military was focusing on.
"The figure is not important for soldiers. The soldiers are only talking about their brothers at arms. They're only thinking about their brothers at arms," he said.
"The number is not important for a soldier or for us here at headquarters."