Troops of the Second Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry had to hasten their farewells to families and friends in Winnipeg, on Thursday.

A total of 107 soldiers from the base are shipping out for Afghanistan, along with 21 soldiers from a base in Ontario.

Defence Minister Art Eggleton announced Wednesday night that 128 soldiers would leave for Afghanistan on Thursday - about a week earlier than planned.

The Winnipeg-based soldiers will join other members of their regiment in Kandahar.

Canadian troops are guarding the Kandahar airbase and have joined American forces in the search for Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in the Gardez area.

Also taking part in the new mission will be 21 members of a communications detachment from CFB Kingston. They will join the infantry on the flight to Afghanistan.

At the base in Kandahar there was a clear example of just how dangerous the mission in Afghanistan will be. An explosion and fire at an ammunition dump near the airbase was set off by a booby trap, according to the Canadian commander.

Lt. Col. Pat Strogan said three Afghan soldiers were collecting firewood at the ammunition dump when they moved a wooden box. Strogan said that's when the blast went off that started a fire.

The three Afghans were killed.

The fire caused other ammunition to explode. Canadian soldiers took cover behind nearby buildings as live ammunition and pieces of shrapnel whistled over their heads. No Canadians were killed or injured.

Multiple explosions went on for several hours southwest of the base where a reconnaissance platoon of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was manning an outpost.

Canadian soldiers could see the fire spreading, but there was little they could do with the shrapnel and ammunition raining down around them.

About 4,200 Canadian, American and other coalition troops are stationed at the airbase.