Medic emerges as heroic figure in Afghan convoy tragedy

An army medic is described as the hero of Sunday's car-bomb attack on Canadians in Afghanistan.

As Paul Franklin and two badly wounded comrades are undergoing medical treatment in Germany, the Canadian medic is emerging as the hero of a car-bomb attack on a Canadian convoy in Afghanistan.

Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry was killed in the suicide attack on Sunday.

Cpl. Jeffrey Bailey and Pte. William Salikin are in critical condition in "medically induced unconsciousness," while Franklin, who lost part of a leg, is in serious condition, a Canadian officer said in Kandahar.

They were airlifted to Germany on Monday and were being treated at a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl.

"They're all in fine care at this point," Lt.-Col. Steve Borland, deputy commander of the Kandahar force, told CBC News on Monday.

Franklin's wife, who spoke to him by telephone, says he saved his own life by applying a tourniquet to his severed left leg.

The CBC's David Common says Franklin's bravery is believed to have gone even further than that.

Military sources say he crawled to his wounded comrades and gave them first-aid that may have saved their lives, Common reports.

The bomber attacked the convoy as it was returning to the coalition forces base near Kandahar.

The blast hurled the armoured Mercedes jeep, carrying the Canadians into a row of shops.

It killed Berry, 59, the political director of the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan. Foreign Affairs said he was the first Canadian diplomat to be slain abroad.

The attack also killed two Afghan civilians and injured 13 people, including the three Canadian soliders – Bailey of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, Salikin of 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and Franklin, a master corporal, of 1 Field Ambulance.

Diplomat praised for distinguished career

Berry spent nearly three decades working as a diplomat, including postings at the United Nations and in Pakistan, before he began his work in Afghanistan in August.

His military and diplomatic colleagues described him as a dedicated diplomat who passionately believed in the rule of international law.

"When I spoke with his widow today, she spoke touchingly about how important he felt this work was and how much he felt he was making a difference," Peter Harder of Foreign Affairs Canada told reporters.

"His loss touches us all."

Medic put tourniquet on his own severed leg

Franklin's wife, Audra, said her husband told her the explosion severed his left leg below the knee and broke his right leg.

"I'm so proud, because ... he applied his own tourniquet in the field and saved his own life," she told CBC News at her home in Edmonton.

Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant, commander of military forces in Western Canada, said all three soldiers were based in Edmonton and due to return home within weeks.

'They all understand the risk they take'

Grant told a news conference that the city's tight-knit military community was hit hard by news of the attack.

But he also said Canadian troops working in Afghanistan knew the risks and felt they were worth taking.

"The life we sign up for is dangerous. It's a risky environment," Grant said.

"They're doing an important job over there and they all understand that, and they all understand the risk they take."

No indication that Canadians were targeted

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, which witnesses said occurred when a vehicle swerved into the convoy and exploded.

Defence officials said the convoy was travelling in armoured Mercedes-Benz Gelaendewagens, known as G Wagons.

The attack highlighted the increasing dangers for coalition troops in Afghanistan.

In Kandahar, Borland said attacks on coalition forces have become more frequent. "Contrary to previous years, there is not a winter lull," he said.

He said there is no indication that Sunday's attack was aimed specifically at Canadians. The attackers do not differentiate between the groups that make up the coalition, he said.

There have been more than 25 suicide car bombings in the past four months, with militants using the once-rare tactic to try to destabilize the country.

Afghanistan receives Canada's largest foreign commitment in both dollars and military deployments.

Canada has about 650 troops there, with plans to increase its military presence in Kandahar to about 2,000 in February.