Canadian soldier dies as militants attack outpost in Afghanistan
A soldier from an Edmonton-based battalion was killed early Monday in southern Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his combat outpost in the Panjwaii district, military officials say.
Master Cpl. Erin Doyle of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry is the second Canadian soldier to be killed in combat in three days.
A second soldier was seriously injured in the attack and taken to the multinational hospital at Kandahar Airfield for treatment.
Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson said that as many as 10 insurgents attacked the outpost in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province just before 6 a.m. local time. He said Canadian soldiers returned fire and called for artillery and air support.
"Master Cpl. Doyle was killed while he was protecting his position and his fellow soldiers," Thompson said, adding that the enemy was defeated.
Doyle, who is survived by his wife Nicole and his daughter Zarine, is the 90th Canadian soldier to die since the Afghan mission began in 2002. This was his third tour in Afghanistan.
"Erin was a big, tough, mountain of a man who enjoyed the outdoors," Thompson said.
"He was a true warrior and just the person you would want beside you in a firefight."
Thompson said combat outposts are stationed where insurgents have a grip on the area. He said the military often conducts frequent foot patrols from the outposts to exert their influence over the area and to reassure the population.
He said leaving the outposts would mean surrendering the area to the Taliban.
Monday's attack came days after Master Cpl. Josh Roberts was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Zhari district of Kandahar province.
Doyle grew up in Kamloops, B.C., and was a former reservist with the Rocky Mountain Rangers, according to a report by the Kamloops Daily News.
His stepfather, Bob Mitchell, said Doyle met his wife in the reserves and the couple moved to Edmonton and became full-time soldiers.
Mitchell said the news was devastating as his family had been hoping Doyle would return home safely as he had on his previous two missions.
"They were supposed to be over there as peacekeepers but it didn't turn out that way," he said.
A statement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Doyle will be "remembered with the utmost gratitude and respect of this nation."
"He was an exceptional Canadian and courageous soldier who died while bravely serving his country," Harper said in the statement.
Canada has about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, largely based in and around Kandahar province.
With files from the Canadian Press