Fallen Canadian soldier begins journey home

The body of Canadian soldier Pte. Alexandre Péloquin — the latest Canadian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan — began the journey home Tuesday night.

Military operation he was involved in eliminated about 80 bombs

Soldiers carry the body of Pte. Alexandre Péloquin, 20, into a waiting plane at Kandahar Airfield on Tuesday. ((DND))

The body of Pte. Alexandre Péloquin — the latest Canadian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan — began the journey home Tuesday night.

Soldiers gathered at Kandahar Airfield for a familiar and sombre ramp ceremony as his body was loaded onto a Hercules transport plane.

In a statement, his family described him as someone who was passionate about his life and about the military.

Péloquin, 20, was killed by an improvised explosive device Monday while on a foot patrol toward the end of a military operation. The incident occurred in the village of Nakhoney in the volatile Panjwaii district, about 15 kilometres southwest of the city of Kandahar.

On Tuesday, military officials said the operation Péloquin was involved in had been effective.

Pte. Alexandre Péloquin, 20, was killed Monday by an explosion in southern Afghanistan. He served with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment, based at CFB Valcartier near Quebec City. ((DND))

He was participating in Operation Constrictor, which was aimed at ending the work of an insurgent cell in the Panjwaii district, said Task Force Kandahar Lt.-Col. Mike Patrick.

Canadian and Afghan forces and NATO surveillance have been tracking Taliban fighters in the region south of Kandahar city to find bomb-making facilities.

Canadian troops moved into some of the small towns that had been taken over by Taliban to manufacture the roadside bombs during the operation, officials said.

Soldiers participating in the operation found 15 makeshift bombs and seized components that could have made dozens more, Patrick said.

"Between the ones we have taken from the area, that have actually been deployed that we detected and removed, and the ones we found that were in some stage of assembly … the high end would be approximately 80 devices," Patrick said.

12 Valcartier soldiers have perished

During the operation, soldiers also effectively engaged in firefights with insurgents, he said.

The bombs seized included devices directed at harming individuals and giant bombs that are meant to take out armoured vehicles.

The seizure will likely limit the ability of insurgents to attack NATO forces in the region for the next several months, officials said.

Meanwhile, Péloquin's grandmother, Rita Moore-Péloquin, told The Canadian Press her grandson was made for the military and joined the cadets at a young age.

Péloquin wanted to go to Afghanistan to help people, said Moore-Péloquin.

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 have died during the mission, which began seven years ago. The overall Canadian death toll is 119 soldiers, one diplomat and two aid workers.

With files from The Canadian Press