Canadian soldiers kill Afghan girl

An Afghan girl has been killed in an accidental shooting by Canadian soldiers in Kandahar province, military officials disclosed Wednesday.

An Afghan girl has been killed in an accidental shooting by Canadian soldiers in Kandahar province, military officials disclosed Wednesday.

Soldiers had dismounted from a convoy in the volatile Panjwaii district when a motorcycle came speeding toward them, said Task Force Kandahar spokesman Maj. Mario Couture.

When the driver did not heed signals to stop, a warning shot was fired and the motorcycle changed direction and sped away. Moments later, the soldiers noticed a crowd gathering and discovered that a girl, whose age was not disclosed, had been hit with the ricocheting bullet, Couture said. Attempts to save the girl were unsuccessful, he added.

About an hour later, in a separate incident, soldiers inspecting a suspected improvised explosive device on a road in neighbouring Dand district fired on a vehicle advancing on them in the dark with its lights out.

He said the soldiers used lights and a warning shot to try and stop the truck, but to no avail.

"A shot was fired like it normally is at the ground to get their attention," Couture said.

When that didn't work, soldiers fired on the vehicle, injuring three men inside. About 10 shots were fired. "They gave them first aid and evacuated them to the hospital [at the NATO base in Kandahar]."

Two Afghan National Policemen suffered minor injuries and were released, while the third remains in hospital.

Joint investigations of each incident are underway by the Afghan National Police and the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.

Tuesday's incidents were just the latest to comprise a series of shootings by Canadian soldiers in the past week.

Last Friday, Canadian soldiers shot and killed an Afghan man in the city of Kandahar and wounded three others after the car they were in failed to heed orders to stop as it sped toward a team of troops who were defusing a roadside bomb.

The soldiers had cordoned off a secure area when a vehicle breached the perimeter at high speed. The driver of the vehicle failed to heed shouts, hand signals and warning shots and, fearing a suicide bomber, two soldiers opened fire, officials said.

They said the soldiers involved last week had followed all the proper procedures for an escalation of force.

No explosives were found in the vehicle, but Couture said the military has not ruled out the possibility that the men involved were insurgents trying to test the Canadian perimeter.

The behaviour of the motorcycle driver at the scene of the girl's death was also suspicious, Couture said.

"We know that insurgents want to drive a wedge between the coalition force and the population, so if they can make us make mistakes, then it serves their purpose," Couture said. "If we fire, it works in their favour. We're aware of that."

In the absence of evidence of wrongdoing, the soldier involved in the girl's death will remain on duty unless he chooses to take some time off following the shooting, Couture said.