3 Canadian soldiers killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan
Three Canadian soldiers were killed and two injured in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device detonated near their armoured vehicle.
Warrant Officer Dennis Raymond Brown, Cpl. Dany Fortin and Cpl. Kenneth O'Quinn were killed Tuesday evening when a roadside bomb detonated during a patrol in Arghandab District, about 10 kilometres northwest of Kandahar city, said Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance.
The soldiers were sent into the area as part of Canada's Quick Reaction Force to respond to a call by the Afghan National Police after an IED was found on the main supply route, said Maj. Rob Dunn.
The soldiers were able to defuse that bomb and were returning to base when their patrol struck another roadside device, Dunn said.
Brown served with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, Fortin with 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville and O'Quinn with 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Squadron.
"Canada lost three outstanding soldiers," Vance said, "men who were dedicated to their country — to making a difference here in Afghanistan so that others could have hope of a peaceful and stable life."
Vance described Brown, a Niagara, Ont., area reservist who had been a police special constable in his civilian life, as someone who "always had an infectious smile on his face, no matter what the challenge." Brown is survived by a wife and four children.
Fortin, originally from Baie-Comeau, Que. but based in Bagotville, Que. since 2002, was a fan of the Montreal Canadiens and known to his comrades as "Dany-O," Vance said.
O'Quinn, who was based at CFB Petawawa, was "a proud, dedicated soldier, who had a bright future ahead of him," Vance said. "He could accomplish anything in his life and everyone had the same faith in him."
The wounded soldiers were taken by helicopter to the medical facility at Kandahar Airfield and are listed in fair and good condition, officials said. Their names are not being released.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement on Wednesday offering condolences to the fallen soldiers' families and wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
"These soldiers served valiantly alongside their comrades while helping to build a stable Afghanistan," Harper said.
"The courage demonstrated by these soldiers speaks volumes to their dedication to Canada and to creating a better country for the Afghan people. The commitment of our service men and women to this goal is not diminished by these attacks."
Insurgent activity on the rise
Although Arghandab has traditionally been a quiet district, over the last two weeks officials have observed increasing insurgent activity, including several IED devices, Dunn said.
The Taliban may be in the process of moving weapons into the area to prepare for a spring and summer fighting season, Dunn said.
Since beginning major combat operations three years ago in Kandahar province, the Canadian battle group has only fought two major engagements in the district, which is mostly farm land.
Most of the fighting has taken place west of Kandahar in the volatile Zhari and Panjwaii districts.
The soldiers are the first Canadians to die in the last month in Afghanistan. Sapper Sean Greenfield died on Jan. 31 when a bomb exploded under an armoured vehicle he was travelling in.
The deaths bring the Canadian military's death toll to 111 since the Afghan mission began more than seven years ago. One Canadian diplomat and two Canadian aid workers have also been killed.
There are about 2,500 soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan.
With files from the Canadian Press