Canadian Forces name 1 of 2 soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Afghan interpreter also killed; Radio-Canada journalist suffers serious leg injury
The Canadian Forces identified one of two Canadian soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan Wednesday as Master Cpl. Christian Duchesne.
Duchesne, of the 5th Field Ambulance based out of Valcartier, Que., was killed along with another Canadian soldier and an Afghan interpreter. The families of the soldiers have been notified, but the name of the remaining soldier was withheld at the request of the family.
The incident injureda third soldier anda Radio-Canada journalist.
Speaking from Kandahar Airfield on Wednesday, Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, the commander of the Canadian troops in Afghanistan, said there was no way to comfort those who were mourning, "except to say those soldiers were committed and involved in a mission that they believed in."
The soldiers, whose names have not been released yet at the request of their families, were fromthefamed Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment, known as the Van Doos. Their deaths bring the total number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistansince 2002 to 69.
TheCanadians killed and injured Wednesday were riding in a light-armoured vehicle about 50 kilometres west of Kandahar when they hit the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device, Laroche said.
Thebomb is believed to have been planted by insurgents who were retreatingfrom an intense battle with Canadian soldiers. The Canadians had been working to secure a strategic hill near the town of Mas'um Ghar in the Zhari district.
"I want to say that the casualties today came about at the end of the operation that was carried out,"Laroche said, noting that the mission was a success.
"In other words, we had reached the target, we had carried out the mission and, in fact, they were consolidating on the target and that's when the incident happened."
'We are always facing potential threats and risks'
Laroche acknowledged that such work is risky.
"It's no more dangerous today than it was yesterday, but once again, we are always facing potential threats and risks," he said. "The only thing you have to do now is to carry on with the mission, and that's exactly what we are doing."
In a statement released early Thursday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay expressed his condolences to Duchesne's family, as well as to the relatives of the other Canadian soldier who died.
"My thoughts and prayers are with them during this time of great sorrow. I also wish a speedy recovery to the soldier injured in this incident," the statement said.
"Let us never forget these brave soldiers, whose self-sacrifice served to make life better for others."
MacKay said his sympathies also went out to the Radio-Canada journalists.
The Van Doos, who have been posted in Afghanistan for less than a month, are already coping with the loss of Pte. Simon Longtin, the first Van Doos soldier to die in Afghanistan.
Longtin, 23,was killedSunday when the vehicle he was in hit a roadside bomb. His body arrived back in Canada from Afghanistan just hours before the latest deaths were announced on Wednesday.
"It's been a troubling day here. Just a few weeks on the job and already this conflict is testing the Van Doos," the CBC's Brooks DeCillia said, reportingfrom Kandahar.
At the Van Doos base in Valcartier, near Quebec City, Lt.-Col. Hercule Gosselin said the close-knit community will support itself through its grief.
"We all share the same emotion with regard to the tragedy," he told reporters Wednesday night. "We're going to get close together and deal with that."
Two Radio-Canada journalists affected
Radio-Canada, meanwhile, confirmedthat two of its journalists were involved in the attack.
Charles Dubois, a cameraman for the broadcaster,suffered aserious leg injury and underwent surgery at a military hospital. His injury is not life-threatening.
His colleague Patrice Roy, a reporter, was not hurt, but issuffering fromshock.
Both journalists volunteered to go to Afghanistan and were well-trained, said Radio-Canada, which is the French-language arm of the CBC.
Reporter Daniel Lessard, a colleague of Dubois and Roy at Radio-Canada, said Dubois is an experienced journalist who has covered wars and political unrest in Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Charles is a fearless cameraman, one of the best, if not the best, I know," Lessard said from Ottawa. "Every time there is something dangerous and we need a cameraman, he is always willing to go."
Lessard said Roy was just as fearless.
"He didn't want to just go and look from Kandahar," Lessard said. "He wanted to see everything, go with the soldiers, live with them, travel with them.
"A lot of people told him, 'You should not, it's dangerous,' but he said, 'No, I want to do the whole thing.'"
Alain Saulnier, the general manager of information at Radio-Canada, saidcolleagues at CBC and Radio-Canada are thinkingabout the families and loved ones of all the victims.
"We were fully aware of the dangers involved in our Afghanistan coverage, but also of its critical importance for Canadians, and we are determined to continue it," he said in a written statement.
No other information has been released about the Afghan interpreter.