Newfoundland soldier killed in Afghanistan

A Newfoundlander serving with the Royal Canadian Regiment, 3rd Battalion was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul on Tuesday morning. Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26, was from Conception Harbour.

A Newfoundlander serving with the Royal Canadian Regiment, 3rd Battalion was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul on Tuesday morning. Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26, was from Conception Harbour.

A second Newfoundlander, Cpl. Jeremy Gerald MacDonald, 28, of Burnt Islands, was wounded.

His father Gerald MacDonald says the family first got word of the incident from Canadian military officials at 3:30 a.m. He says his wife Kathleen spoke to their son for a few minutes, and everything is fine. "A few cuts and bruises on his arm and legs, he's saying."

" My wife was talking to him earlier," MacDonald says. "He said he's all right, don't worry, he's all right just take care."

"It was a bit of scare earlier, but we're getting over it now."

MacDonald says while his family is relieved, their hearts go out to the Murphy family.

Also wounded were Lieut. Jason Matthew Feyko, 30 of Peterborough, Ont. and Cpl. Richard Michael Newman, 23, of Hartland, N.B. The injuries suffered by the three wounded are not considered life-threatening.

The attacked happened in the Afghan capital. "North of King's Palace we had a suicide bomber," said Maj. Jamie Morse, the battalion's deputy commander.

"The explosives were strapped to the person's chest. There is one Canadian dead."

Military officials said the blast went off at 8:25 a.m. near two Iltis jeeps carrying six soldiers in a convoy.

Routine mission

They were on a regular patrol in the western side of Kabul about one kilometre from Camp Julien, the main base housing most of Canada's 2,000 soldiers.

"There was a bump in the road, and when they slowed down to pass over it a terrorist jumped on one of the vehicles and blew himself up," said Ali Jan Askaryar, head of police in the western district of Kabul.

The Taliban, which was driven from power by U.S.-led forces in late 2001, has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying supporters will launch more attacks against foreign "infidels."

In a statement, Defence Minister David Pratt and Gen. Ray Henault, chief of the defence staff, expressed their condolences to the families.

"I am deeply saddened by the tragic incident that claimed the life of Cpl Jamie Murphy and injured three others," Pratt said. "Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of the victims of this terrible event."

Premier Danny Williams has joined in expressing condolences. The flags at Confederation Building in St. John's have been lowered to half-mast in a show of respect.

Little protection from bomber

The Iltis vehicles are light weight and provide little protection against mines or bombs. The military is buying new German-made vehicles for use in Afghanistan, but at a news conference in Ottawa, Henault wouldn't speculate on whether they would have made a difference.

Gen. Ray Henault

Gen. Ray Henault

"There is quite sincerely no real protection against a determined suicide bomber. A suicide bomber, if he can't take on a force in a way that that is to his convenience will do it in some other way," Henault said.

Pratt and Henault say the attack will not change Canada's role in Afghanistan.

All of the soldiers are members of the International Security and Assistance Force, and are taking part in policing and security operations.

One Afghan civilian died and eight others were injured in the attack and are being treated in hospital.

Last October, two other Canadians were killed in Kabul. Sgt. Robert Allan Short, 42, and Cpl. Robbie Christopher Beerenfenger, 29, died when a suspected landmine was detonated under their jeep. Master Cpl. Jason Cory Hamilton, Cpl. Thomas Stirling and Cpl. Cameron Lee Laidlaw were hurt in the incident.

The latest attack comes less than a week after members of a second contingent of Canadian troops began heading to Afghanistan. They will replace the first wave of troops who have been there for the past six months.

Nearly 2,000 men and women from CFB Valcartier are expected to be in Camp Julien by mid-February.