CBC News & Meagan Fitzpatrick / Vancouver Sun – 2006-09-05 22:56:36
Canadians Killed in ‘Friendly Fire’ Incident
(September 4, 2006) — Two US fighter jets mistakenly fired on a Canadian platoon taking part in a massive anti-Taliban operation west of Kandahar on Monday, killing one soldier and injuring dozens of others.
The incident occurred at about 5:30 a.m. local time when two US A-10 Thunderbolts, operating under NATO command, responded to a call for support from soldiers trying to take a Taliban stronghold along the Arghandab River.
In a statement, NATO said the aircraft engaged friendly forces during a strafing run, using cannons.
The dead Canadian — who is the 33rd to die since the mission started in 2002 — has not been identified.
Five of the 30 soldiers wounded in the attack will be airlifted to hospitals outside of Afghanistan. Their conditions are not known.
Officials said the rest of the wounded soldiers should be back on duty within days.
Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, the Canadian Armed Forces general who is in charge of the NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, promised the incident would be thoroughly investigated.
“We’ve got to find out what were the details there,” Fraser said. “We do have procedures, we do have communications, we do have training and tactics and techniques and procedures to mitigate the risk, but we can’t reduce those risks to zero.”
It isn’t the first time that Canadian troops have died in so-called friendly-fire incidents in Afghanistan. Earlier in August, Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh died after apparently being shot accidentally by a fellow soldier.
However, the friendly-fire case that created the most controversy and outrage in Canada came in 2002, when a US fighter jet mistakenly dropped a bomb on Canadian forces as they conducted a training exercise. The bomb killed four Canadians from the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and injured eight others.
Four Canadians Killed a Day Earlier
Monday’s incident comes less than 24 hours after four Canadian soldiers were killed in the same district while taking part in Operation Medusa, a NATO air and land offensive aimed at purging Taliban militants from the dangerous Panjwaii area.
Two of the four Canadians killed on Sunday have been identified as Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish, who grew up in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan, from Newfoundland.
The military has not publicly identified the other two soldiers, at the request of their families. Nine other Canadians were injured in the fighting, one seriously. The military reported about 200 militants had died.
With the latest deaths, 32 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan since Canada’s mission began in 2002.
With files from the Canadian Press
Copyright ©2006 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – All Rights Reserved
Layton Wants Canadian Troops Brought Home
Meagan Fitzpatrick / Vancouver Sun
OTTAWA (September 1, 2006) — Canadian troops should withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible, NDP leader Jack Layton demanded Thursday.
“This is not the right mission for Canada,” Layton told reporters at a news conference.
Layton said the mission is not making the world a safer place, and with no end in sight he wants troops home by February 2007 — at the latest.
That’s when the mission was originally supposed to end, but in May, Parliament narrowly voted to extend Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan until 2009. The NDP voted against the motion.
The NDP leader wants a “comprehensive peace process” to be implemented in Afghanistan — one that could even include sitting down for talks with the Taliban.
“We believe that a comprehensive peace process has to bring all combatants to the table,” Layton said. “You don’t accomplish peace if those who are fighting are not involved in a peace-based discussion, that’s fundamental.”
When further asked about negotiating with the Taliban, Layton said that a cessation of violence would have to be the first step.
Layton said the current mission has no clear mandate or objectives, no criteria to measure its success, no timeline and no exit strategy.
“It’s a mission that is not well-conceived, it’s not balanced, it has no comprehensive strategy to achieve peace associated with it and as a result it’s not making the world a safer place and by extension, it’s not going to make Canada a safer place,” he said.
Canada should be pumping more money into humanitarian and reconstruction aid projects instead of funding a counter-insurgency war, Layton said.
He accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government of “blindly following” the lead of George W. Bush’s American administration when making foreign policy decisions.
“It’s time once again for a made-in-Canada foreign policy that reflects the values and the dreams of Canadians,” Layton said. “It’s time to reclaim Canada’s place in the world.”
The Toronto MP said he believes many Canadians support his call to bring troops home.
CanWest News Service
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