Blast kills Canadian soldier in Afghanistan
Valcartier, Que.-based soldier remembered as 'very courageous'
A Canadian soldier was killed by an explosive device while on foot patrol Monday in southern Afghanistan, the military says.
Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, commander of Task Force Afghanistan, told reporters at Kandahar Airfield that the soldier has been identified as Pte. Alexandre Péloquin, 20. He is survived by his mother Monique.
Péloquin was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment — known as the Van Doos — based at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier near Quebec City. He is the 12th Valcartier soldier to die in the mission.
Péloquin — who joined the Forces on Oct. 26, 2007 — was from the Laurentides region north of Montreal but was living in Val Belair before he left in mid-April on his first mission to Afghanistan, said CFB Valcartier spokesman Alex Maille.
The incident occurred in the village of Nakhoney in the volatile Panjwaii district, about 15 kilometres southwest of the city of Kandahar.
"Pélo, as named by his friends, was a strong man, remarkably fit and very courageous," Vance told reporters.
"His family and friends should be very proud of him, and so should all Canadians, for he represented the very best of Canada."
Vance said the battle group was involved in six days of "magnificent work" in the area removing material used for improvised explosive devices, which have been the scourge of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
"Pte. Péloquin was part of a successful operation, and he contributed to that success today," he said.
PM extends condolences
"It is with the utmost sorrow that I extend my condolences, and those of all Canadians, to the family and friends of Pte. Alexandre Péloquin," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.
"I join with Canadians who stand proudly with our men and women of the Canadian Forces as they courageously risk their lives every day to bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan.
"Real, measurable progress has been made in Afghanistan, but much remains to be done. It is only through the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of remarkable Canadians like Pte. Péloquin that Afghanistan will once again flourish and stand on its own."
The number of Canadian soldiers who have died since the Afghan mission began seven years ago has now risen to 119. One diplomat and two aid workers have also been killed.
With files from The Canadian Press