A Canadian soldier was killed as he repaired a tank during a patrol in Afghanistan's volatile south, the military confirmed Tuesday before word emerged that anotherCanadian soldier had been wounded in a separate incident.
Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, a 24-year-old reservist from the King's Own Calgary Regiment, was hit by a mortar shell Monday afternoon as he was fixing a track that had fallen off the Leopard tank in the Panjwaii district, about 47 kilometres west of Kandahar City.
Another Canadian soldier was injured in the 4:30 p.m. attack local time, while three others were wounded as they tried to help the injured soldier.
"There are no ways to comfort those who are grieving today except to say Cpl. Hornburg was involved in a mission he believed in," Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, Canada's military commander in Afghanistan,told reporters Tuesday at the Kandahar military base.
Soldier seriously injured in new incident
In a separate incident Tuesday, a Canadian soldier was seriously wounded while on foot patrol with the Afghan National Police.
The soldier, who has not been identified, was taken by military helicopter to the main base at Kandahar. He was later moved to a British military hospital in nearby Helmand province for neurological care.
He was patrolling with the Afghans as part of a Canadian Forces mentoring team when the entire group came under attack from insurgents. They were hit with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire.
Injured soldiers expected to recover
Atthe time of Monday's attack, Hornburg and other soldiers were trying to increase security in the northern part of the Panjwaii district, in the hopes of establishing a police station there.
Laroche said the terrain is rough in the area, and it is not unusual for a tank's track to fall off.
"That's something we see on a regular basis, unfortunately," he said.
After the initial attack, Canadian soldiers were hit as they tried to take the injured soldier to a safer place to administer first aid, the CBC's David Common said from Kandahar. Laroche said the soldiers wereattacked as they travelled in a light armoured vehicle.
No other details were available about that attack.
All four soldiers are expected to recover, though some injuries are serious. They were taken by ambulance and helicopter to a military hospital in Kandahar.
The names of the injured will not be released to the public, as is military policy, but Laroche said three are part of the Royal 22nd Regiment in Quebec and one is based at CFB Petawawa in Ontario.
Looking to 'reduce the threat': commander
Laroche said attacks by insurgents are, unfortunately, common in Afghanistan.
"You will never be able essentially to defeat completely the enemy," he said. "You have to find ways to reduce the threat … and that's what we're doing."
Hornburg had known of the threat, but would not be deterred from what he believed was an important mission.
"We know it's a mess and that's why we're there," he told the Calgary Sun in July, before deploying to Afghanistan in August.
Hornburg's family requested privacy on Tuesday and did not grant media interviews.
Including Hornburg, 71 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in the war-torn country since the mission began in 2002.
Canada has about 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of them stationed in the south.