Michelle Lang, 34, of the Calgary Herald was the first Canadian journalist to be killed in Afghanistan. ((Canadian Press))

Tributes poured in Thursday for Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang, who was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan along with four Canadian soldiers.

Lang, 34, was an award-winning journalist who most recently covered the health beat for the newspaper. She was covering Canadian military and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan for CanWest News.

"We are all very saddened to hear this tragic news," Alberta Health and Wellness Minister Ron Liepert said in a statement. "Michelle covered health issues with professionalism, accuracy and thoroughness. She was tenacious in her quest to inform Albertans, and for her diligence she was very well-respected. I express my condolences to her family, friends and all who knew her. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this very heartbreaking time."

Lang is the first Canadian journalist killed while covering events in the Afghan war zone. Her colleagues at the newspaper and across the country mourned her, and remembered her as a thorough, fair-minded and talented reporter.

Michelle Lang's fiancé, Michael Louie, issued a brief statement to the media Thursday evening.

"This is clearly the darkest and most painful moment of my life," he said. "I am absolutely devastated by the loss of my dearest Michelle — my partner, my best friend, and the love of my life.

"Michelle could light up any room she walked into. Those who had the privilege of knowing her professionally and personally will always remember her warmth, her kindness, and the positive impacts that she made wherever she went," Louie said. "I will forever remember how deeply she touched my life and each and every moment that we spent together."

Flags were lowered at Calgary City Hall in her honour.

"It is a very sad day for Canada and for Calgary," said Mayor Dave Bronconnier, who added that city flags are always lowered when a Canadian Forces member dies, and it is only fitting that the same tribute be accorded to Lang, a valued member of the community.

Special place in history

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the friends and families of the soldiers who gave their lives while serving us overseas. Our thoughts are with Michelle’s family and friends too ... Michelle’s life and loss have certainly earned her a special place in Calgary’s history. She will be fondly remembered, and dearly missed."

Canadian Brig-Gen. Daniel Ménard offered a tribute to Lang from Afghanistan on behalf of the military, saying she was "a young dynamic reporter who strove to excel at her job. Her sensitivity and ability to connect with people touched many of us."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office issued a statement, saying Lang "risked her life reporting from one of the world's most dangerous countries.

"She lost her life reporting on the invaluable work being done by Canadian soldiers, aid workers and diplomats in Afghanistan," it said. "Ms. Lang was from my hometown, and I know her unforeseen and tragic death is being felt in Calgary and in communities across Canada."