williamson-dnd

Pte. Blake Williamson ((DND))

Two Canadian soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan on Saturday after militants ambushed them with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire.

Two soldiers were also wounded in the battle in Kandahar province, Canadian military officials said. Those soldiers are in stable condition and their injuries are not considered life-threatening.

The soldiers who died were identified as Sgt.Darcy Tedford and Pte.Blake Williamson, both with the 1st battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment based at CFB Petawawa in eastern Ontario. Their ages and hometowns were not released.

Militants attacked as the soldiers were working on a road designed to offer safer passage from the volatile Panjwaii district to Kandahar. The road, Highway 1, is often referred to by Canadian soldiers as "Ambush Alley."

"The operational report we're getting is that it was a single rocket-propelled grenade that hit one of our strong points," said Col. Fred Lewis, the deputy commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

tedford-dnd

Sgt. Darcy Tedford ((DND))

"It is with courage and heroism that Sgt. Darcy Tedford and Pte. Blake Williamson have sacrificed their life to bring stability, democracy and peace in Afghanistan," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.

"The government stands proudly with our men and women of the Canadian Forces, as they devotedly continue this mission to help Afghans establish a better life for themselves, while also protecting us from the threat of global terrorism."

'Whatever they destroy, we will rebuild'

The deaths of the soldiers brings the number of Canadian military fatalities in Afghanistan to 42.

The attack occurred in the same area where several Canadian soldiers have been killed in recent weeks.Taliban militants have been stepping up attacks in the country's south, particularly in Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

"The Taliban don't like roads because roads mean progress," said Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, the Canadian and NATO commander in southern Afghanistan, during a news conference at Kandahar airbase Saturday after the attack.

"That progress will be challenged every day by that organization called the Taliban, who wants to take it down. Whatever they destroy, we will rebuild."

Canada has more than 2,000 troops in the Kandahar area who are working with NATO to fight Taliban forces.

The latest deaths came on the same day as more than 300 mourners gathered in Newfoundland a ta funeral for Sgt. Craig Gillam.

Gillam and another Canadian soldier, Cpl. Robert Mitchell, were killed on Oct. 3 in a similar attack just west of Kandahar City.

One killed, eight injured

On Friday, in Kandahar city, a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-packed van into a NATO military patrol on a busy commercial street filled with storeowners and shoppers. One NATO soldier and eight Afghan civilians were killed by the shrapnel.

A NATO official said the convoy was made up primarily of U.S. soldiers, but did not divulge the nationality of the dead soldier.

The blast also wounded another NATO soldier and eight civilians. A dozen shops were wrecked.

NATO claims its clashes with insurgents have decreased somewhat in recent weeks.

But militants are increasingly resorting to roadside and suicide attacks to weaken the government and hit Afghan and foreign troops.