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Canadian diplomat killed in Afghan attack

Foreign Affairs Political Director Glyn Berry was killed in a car blast about 1 km southeast of Canada's military base in Kandahar.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2006 14:09 IST

Canada said Monday that it remained committed to rebuilding Afghanistan after a senior Canadian diplomat and two Afghans were killed by a suspected Taliban suicide bomber.

Three Canadian soldiers were also among 12 people wounded in the attack and remained in a critical condition with life-threatening injuries early Monday, the Canadian military said.

Foreign Affairs Political Director Glyn Berry "was killed in a terrorist attack on a PRT (provincial reconstruction team) convoy," said Peter Harder, deputy minister of Canada's foreign affairs.

Berry, who previously worked in Canada's Pakistan High Commission, in Washington and at the United Nations in New York, was the political director and senior civilian member of Canada's PRT in southern Afghanistan, he added.

He was on his way to meet with a local Afghan leader, who has not been named, when he was killed by a car bomb blast about one kilometre (half-a-mile) southeast of Canada's military base in Kandahar city, Harder said.

Military officials said Berry was a "significant and key member" of Canada's mission to help stabilise and rebuild the shattered country, but added they have "no information that Canadians were specifically targeted" in the attack.

His death will not alter Canada's commitment in Afghanistan, Harder said.

In a statement, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canada's work in war-shattered Afghanistan "is of paramount importance to Canada and to the international community as a whole."

"We will continue our work in Afghanistan, knowing that Mr. Berry gave his life for the pursuit of peace and stability," he said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the strike in Kandahar, once the stronghold of the Islamic hardline regime that was ousted by US-led forces in late 2001.

The car-bomber targeted a joint American-Canadian convoy working under the command of the US-led coalition, detonating his vehicle laden with explosives while it was passing near the coalition convoy, Afghan and Western sources said.

The attack was the latest in a wave of suicide bombings that have struck Afghanistan recently -- around 15 in the last four months -- aimed mainly at the US-led coalition and their NATO allies, but also at Afghan forces.

A self-styled spokesman for the Taliban, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, called the agency from an unknown location and claimed responsibility for the attack.

"One of our mujahedin (Muslim holy warriors) who is an Afghan citizen carried out the attack," he said. "It was a suicide attack carried out against the Canadian troops. Several of them were killed."

Militants with suspected links to the Taliban are thought to be copying the tactics of insurgents in Iraq.

Based in Kandahar, Canadians are the second largest coalition force in Afghanistan after US troops, tasked with bringing stability and helping Afghan forces hunt down militants in insurgency-hit regions.

The instability in southern Afghanistan will raise fears in several NATO countries, in particularly in the Netherlands, which is due to deploy another 1,100 to 1,300 solders in the neighbouring province of Uruzgan.

Berry, who had arrived in Afghanistan in August, was planning a holiday soon to celebrate his 60th birthday, Harder said.