Canadian soldier killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan
3 other soldiers from Petawawa-based unit hurt in blast north of Kandahar
A Canadian soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the northern part of Afghanistan's Kandahar province early Wednesday, say military officials.
The soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated near the armoured vehicle in which he was travelling. Three other soldiers were injured in the incident in the Shah Wali Kowt district, about 35 kilometres north of the city of Kandahar.
Trooper Brian Richard Good, 42, was a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment and stationed at the eastern Ontario Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.
Col. Jamie Cade, acting commander of Task Force Kandahar, described Good as an easygoing individual who would do anything for anyone.
"He was active in his community and the best neighbour you could ask for," said Cade.
"He had a distinctive laugh, a smile that reached from ear to ear. He is best remembered by his friends in the battle group for his love for his family; he spoke of them often."
Good leaves behind his wife, Sandra, and two daughters.
The three injured soldiers, all members of the same unit, were taken by helicopter to Kandahar Airfield and are reported to be in good condition, military officials said.
'Good's sacrifice will not be forgotten': Harper
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to Good's family and friends on Wednesday. He said he is also hoping for the quick recovery of the three injured soldiers.
"Canadians, and the government of Canada stand proudly in support of our Canadian Forces members as they strive to bring safety and stability back to Afghanistan," Harper said in a written statement. "While the task is not easy, Canada, along with our NATO and international allies, will continue our efforts to secure and rebuild this wartorn country.
"Trooper Good's sacrifice will not be forgotten."
Good's death is the first of 2009 of a Canadian soldier and brings the Canadian military's death toll in Afghanistan to 107 since the mission began seven years ago. One Canadian diplomat and two Canadian aid workers have also been killed.
A deadly winter in Afghanistan
Though the number of combat casualties usually eases during Afghanistan's harsh winter months, this winter has been a deadly one for Canadian troops.
December saw the near-record deaths of nine soldiers. The most deaths in a single month for the Canadian Forces was set in September 2006 with 10 casualties.
Prior to 2008, only five soldiers died in the period from December to March since Canada took over security in Kandahar province in mid-2006.
Cade refused to attribute the spike in deaths to any specific cause, saying it was part of a natural ebb and flow.
"Sometimes, it's bad luck. Sometimes, it's certain cells enter the area and start to operate in a certain region," he said.
'We will increase suicide attacks,' insurgent vows
A spokesman for insurgents told the Canadian Press that they have ramped up efforts to target Canadians this winter, relying heavily on roadside bombs.
"We have focused on mines these days because that is very helpful to us," said the spokesman, who identified himself as Sangaryar. "This winter, we will increase suicide attacks, and we will not leave our checkpoints. Canadians will be our hot target."
But while Cade called roadside bombs a "plague" that is difficult and time-consuming to fight, he insisted coalition forces are making progress against the Taliban's weapon of choice.
"We are finding more [IEDs] than we strike, but sometimes, the insurgents, they get lucky. And sadly, that was the case today," said Cade.
Canada has about 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, mostly based in the south around Kandahar. The military mission is slated to end in 2011.
With files from the Canadian Press