A Canadian soldier was killed and two others were slightly injured when their light armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, the military said Wednesday.

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Brig-Gen. Guy Laroche speaks to reporters at Kandahar Airfield Thursday. ((CBC))

The soldiers were part of an operation using bulldozers and other equipment to search for mines during a road clearance operation when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED). The incident, which took place about 35 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City in Panjwaii district, occurred at 1:40 p.m. local time Wednesday.

Both of the injured soldiers were later released from hospital and have been in contact with their families. 

The name of the dead soldier has not been released at the family's request.

"Through their devotion and effort, our soldiers bring the hope of a better life for the Afghan people," Brig-Gen. Guy Laroche said from Kandahar.

"A life that provides an opportunity for Afghan children to grow up in peace as young Canadians do back home."

Wednesday's incident marked the fourth death of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan so far this year.  

Cpl. Eric Labbé and Warrant Officer Hani Massouh were killed in early January when their light armoured vehicle rolled over in rough terrain southwest of Kandahar.

Both were members of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment from CFB Valcartier near Quebec City, which took the lead of the Canadian mission in Kandahar last summer.

Trooper Richard Renaud, of the Valcartier-based 12e Régiment blindé du Canada, died Jan. 15 after the vehicle he was riding in hit a roadside bomb in Arghandab district, about 10 kilometres north of Kandahar City.

The number of deaths is somewhat unexpected as insurgent activity is usually quieter during the winter months. Laroche said that the situation around Kandahar is no different than it was during the spring and summer months.

"The difference is there is no direct engagements obviously," he said. "What they have been using is IEDs obviously as their weapon of choice."

A number of soldiers and civilians have been targets of recent IED attacks across the volatile Panjwaii region.

Seven Canadian troops suffered injuries Jan. 16 when their vehicles were struck by roadside bombs. Five Afghans died three days later after a taxi they were riding in hit a similar device. 

The latest death brings the total number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002 to 78. One Canadian diplomat has also died on the mission.

Most of Canada's 2,500 troops participating in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan are in and around Kandahar province. 

With files from the Canadian Press