Explosion Kills Canadian Soldier

A soldier from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry became the 82nd Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan on Friday.

Private Terry John Street, of the Patricias' second battalion, which is based at Shilo, Manitoba, was killed at dusk Friday when his armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device to the southwest of Kandahar City, according to Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, commanding general of Task Force Afghanistan.

Pte. Street, 24, was from Gatineau, Que. and was an infantryman. He had been in Afghanistan for a little over a month of what was to have been a six month deployment. He was killed while his unit was redeploying for the evening after a day operating "outside the wire," or off the base.

"While we honour our comrade's memory, our commitment remains firm and our resolve unshaken to accomplish our task of helping the government of Afghanistan, its people and especially its children, to find the same joy and freedom we often take for granted in our own country," Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche said.

Friday's death was the second combat-related casualty for the Manitoba-based Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry battle group since it took over responsibility for the province of Kandahar five weeks ago.

"Our presence here bring hopes of a better future for all generations," Brig.-Gen. Laroche said. "Some of them have known decades of war and oppression while others are just beginning their lives.

"This is why our brave men and women accept the risks of this mission and the challenge of giving back to the people of Afghanistan a peaceful and prosperous country. I can only hope that these thoughts will be of some comfort to the family and friends of Pte. Street in this time of grief."

Three Canadian soldiers died in March. Two of the deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices. One IED struck a soldier leading a foot patrol. Another IED exploded under an armoured vehicle killing a member of the Quebec-based outgoing Royal 22 Regiment (Van Doo) Battle Group from the Edmonton-based Lord Strathconas Horse. The cause of death of a third soldier who died last month of a gunshot wound in his living quarters at the main Kandahar base was still being examined by military investigators.

Twelve members of the Van Doo Battle Group were killed during its tour which spanned from last August until the beginning of March.

A majority of the Canadians who have died in Afghanistan have been killed, like Street, while driving in armoured vehicles that struck land mines or homemade explosives buried under roads or dirt tracks.

Several Canadian deaths including diplomat Glyn Berry in January, 2006, were caused by suicide bombers who used the cars or trucks they were driving to attack Canadian convoys. Only a handful of fatalities have been caused by direct combat between Canadian troops and insurgents. No Canadians have died in a firefight with the enemy for more than nine months.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement Friday night, saying Street died "in the service of his country and while helping the people of Afghanistan.

"Pte. Street served his country with pride and selfless dedication," said Mr. Harper. "He paid the ultimate price while serving Canada and working towards a very noble goal, the reconstruction of Afghanistan."

Mr. Harper added that Canadian soldiers are helping Afghanistans rebuild their country after decades of war and turmoil.

"We support them as they work toward the international goal of creating a lawful, democratic and secure Afghanistan," he said.

Spring is traditionally when the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies migrate to the killing fields of southern Afghanistan from their winter sanctuaries in Pakistan's lawless Pushtun border areas. The insurgents usually spend the winters, when snow blocks mountain passes between the two countries, resting, recruiting and re-arming in their safe havens.

However, Canadian troops in Kandahar have had relatively little direct contact with the enemy since infantry from an Alberta-based battalion of Princess Patricias and the Petawawa-based Royal Canadian Regiment won several bloody battles to the west of Kandahar City in Panjwaii and Zhari districts during Operation Medusa in the summer and fall of 2006. Since Medusa, where the Taliban suffered heavy losses, its preferred modus operandi has been to plant IED's although from time-to-time they also send out suicide bombers.

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