2 Canadian soldiers killed, 8 wounded in Afghanistan

Two Canadian soldiers were killed and eight were wounded Saturday in one of two suicide bombing attacks in Afghanistan.

Two Canadian soldiers were killed and eight others werewounded Saturday in a suicide bomb attackin Afghanistan near the coalition base in Kandahar.

Cpl. Francisco Gomez, 44,of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton and Cpl. Jason Patrick Warren, 29, of Montreal's The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada died in the attack, the Department of National Defence said.

The soldiers were travelling in a Bison armoured vehicle, part ofa support convoy that was returning to Kandahar airfield when a suicide bomber attacked at about 5:20 p.m. local time (8:50 a.m. ET).

Slow approach

The suicide attacker's vehicle approached the convoy slowly and then exploded, aneyewitness told CBC Radio.

An hour later, a second suicide bomber attacked the convoy about 100 metres from the first attack. Six Afghan civilians were killed in the heavily populated area, and 30 were injured; no Canadians were wounded.

TheCanadianswounded inthe first attack were taken by helicopter to the hospital at Kandahar airfield. Twowerefrom Shilo, Man., and six from Edmonton. Fivewere released Saturday, "while the other three are in good condition with non-life-threatening injuries," DND said.

One is being flown to hospital in Germany.

This was the most serious attack on Canada's soldiers in Afghanistan since their arrival in February 2002. The death toll has now risen to 19 soldiers and one diplomat.

The two deaths are "the price Canadahas topay today for a brighter future for the people of Afghanistan,"said Col. Tom Putt, deputy commanding officer of the Canadian Task Force Afghanistan.

Rear of convoy

TheBison was at the rear of a convoy of Canadians that was heading back to Kandahar airfield following a gruelling two weeks of fighting.

Gomez and Warrenwere transported by road to a coalition outpost, where they were pronounced dead.

Next-of-kin have been notified. The military is planning the return of the soldiers' remains from Kandahar.

In a statement issued Saturday evening, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said:"While deeply saddened by their loss, we are proud of the men and women of the Canadian Forces, who continue to stand on guard for Canadian values around the world, in spite of personal risks to their own safety."

"Our nation extends its sympathy to the family and friends of these brave individuals and is hopeful that their injured comrades will soon recover," Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said in a statement.

Taliban claims responsibility

A man claiming to be a Taliban spokesman took responsibility for the attacks, which came as coalition forces prepare to take command of the volatile region.

Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said both suicide bombers were Afghans. He threatened more suicide attacks and ambushes against coalition and Afghan forces.

Planners had expected more people to be killed in the second attack,Ahmadi is reportedto have said.

About 2,300 Canadian soldiers are based in Kandahar.